Friday, May 15, 2009

Residential Investment Components

by Bill McBride on 5/15/2009 07:11:00 PM

Home Depot (Tuesday) and Lowes (Monday) announce results next week, and this might be something to watch!

Residential investment, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), includes new single family structures, multifamily structures, home improvement, broker's commissions, and a few minor categories.

In Q4 - for the first time - investment in home improvements exceeded investment in new single family structures. This continued into Q1 2009.

Residential Investment Components Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the various components of RI as a percent of GDP for the last 50 years. The most important components are investment in single family structures followed by home improvement.

Investment in home improvement was at a $162.3 billion Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) in Q1, significantly above investment in single family structures of $113.7 billion (SAAR).

Let's take a closer look at these two key components of RI:

Residential Investment Single Family Structures As everyone knows, investment in single family structures has fallen off a cliff. This is the component of RI that gets all the media attention - although usually from stories about single family starts and new home sales.

Currently investment in single family structures is at 0.8% of GDP, significantly below the average of the last 50 years of 2.35% - and also below the previous record low in 1982 of 1.20%.

But what about home improvement?

Residential Investment Home Improvement The third graph shows home improvement investment as a percent of GDP.

Home improvement is at 1.15% of GDP, off the high of 1.30% in Q4 2005 - but still above the average of the last 50 years of 1.07%.

This would seem to suggest there remains significant downside risk to home improvement spending.

NOTE: Home improvement is a rough estimate by the BEA - and could be lower. Also, there could be changes in spending patterns leading to a higher percentage of GDP on home improvement.

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