ORLANDO — Economists are predicting that housing will see gradual rises in activity in 2011 as the U.S. economy and job market continue to move to improve, establishing momentum that will produce more gains in 2012. The information was presented to members of the woodworking industry at the 2011 International Builders Show in Orlando.

"This year's spring selling season will be better than last year's," David Crowe, chief economist with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), said in a statement. He added that job growth will provide a stronger stimulus in the housing market than last year's tax credits for home buyers.

Crowe forecasted 575,000 single-family home starts in 2011, a 21 percent climb over an estimated 475,000 units started in 2010, which in turn showed a 7 percent gain from the 442,000 homes started in 2009.

Multifamily, which is poised to profit from a disproportionate number of Gen Y members moving into the housing market, has seen the bottom of the cycle, he said, and will see its starts rise 16 percent this year to 133,000 units, with a further 53 percent increase in 2012 to 203,000 units.

New-home sales, Crowe projected, "will struggle" but begin following employment gains, reaching 405,000 for the year, up from an estimate of about 320,000 for 2010.

Posted by Karen Koenig

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