By Kathleen Madigan, The Wall Street Journal
Among all the measures of housing’s recovery, one gauge lags far behind: building jobs. But this year, construction payrolls may catch up finally with building activity.
Although Friday’s new home sales data reported a disappointing 7.3% drop in new home sales in December, for all of 2012 sales were up nearly 20% from 2011′s pace. New home sales remain well below the 1-million mark seen during the boom years, but fundamentals such as low interest rates and firmer job growth should support another sales gain this year.
The home sales report also showed builders were able to sell more higher-priced homes, not just in absolute terms but also as a share of all new homes sold. During the housing bust of 2007 though mid-2011, lower-price homes (those selling for less than $200,000) grabbed as much as 44% of the new-home market, while homes priced above $300,000 accounted for as low as 26%. The middle-price range of $200,000 to 299,999 stayed fairly stable around 30%-32%.
In 2012, however, the share of sales coming from higher-priced homes jumped to 34%, while cheaper homes fell to 33%.