Housing Bust Spells Nightmare for Renovators

Housing Bust Spells Nightmare for Renovators - at www.moneyweek.com - the best of the international financial media

Conventional wisdom says that trade jobs related to housing will remain strong even if new home construction takes a tumble. I guess the theory is that people will have to maintain their houses and will be putting more into them, as opposed to buying new houses. These things are hard to debate with the 'housing will never die' crowd, so sometimes you just have to wait for a practical example. I just found one.

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting a 'Renovators' Nightmare for Builders':

'Sydney's infatuation with home improvements has abruptly ended, as evidence grows that the end of the housing boom is hitting the city's economy.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

'The value of home renovations in NSW has plunged $120 million in just three months, or more than 20% -- the largest fall in dollar terms since the Bureau of Statistics began collecting records in 1974.

'The number of home building starts in the state also fell, as did the total value of building work in the March quarter.

'Architects, seen as bellwethers for the building industry and the broader economy, said yesterday that their workloads had held up nationally but fallen by a third in Sydney since the peak of the boom two years ago.'

We have already seen consumer spending and home sales drop like a rock in both the United Kingdom and Australia. One argument currently floating around in the United States is that we aren't making any more land. The last time I checked, they were not making land in London anymore either. Japan has not made any land recently, but that did not stop prices from falling for 18 consecutive years.

The United Kingdom has just about finished year one of a housing bust, and Australia is well into year two. Already, U.K. retailers are clamouring for lower interest rates to prop up consumer spending. The first rate cut in the United Kingdom took place in August. I doubt it will do any good. Consumers are just plain tapped out, and job losses are mounting.

The UK 'Consumer Spending Express Train' has left the station. It is now heading south. It may be years before it heads back north.

Look for Sydney to lead. I suspect we will soon be hearing about 'Renovators' Nightmares' in the United Kingdom, followed by the United States, of course. A liquidity trap is coming your way soon.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, consumers merrily go about their business buying homes sight unseen. Check out this article in Newsweek Business:

'In the last year Stockerhas also bought rentals in Alabama and Florida; he hopes to buy at least 10 altogether. 'Next year I plan to buy a motorcycle and take a tour of my properties,' he says, since he's never seen any of them.'

These Johnny-come-latelys accumulating condos and houses sight unseen will soon be in for a rude awakening. Professional investors are for the most part gone, but amateurs are still bidding up properties even with inventories of unsold homes skyrocketing in Boston, California, Las Vegas, and other places. Eighty percent of the condos in Florida are now being sold to 'investors.' The writing's on the wall, if anyone would bother to stop and read it.

By Mike Shedlock - 'Mish'Whiskey & Gunpowder

Whiskey & Gunpowder is a free, twice-per-week, e-mail service brought to you by a team of rebellious brigands. You can start your own subscription by clicking here: https://www.whiskeyandgunpowder.com