We can all come out of our caves. The real estate site Zillow (Nasdaq:Z) says that housing prices in the second quarter increased by 0.2% nationwide year-over-year to $149,300. It's the first increase since 2007, suggesting we are now officially at the bottom. That doesn't mean we should all go out and start flipping houses. Growth is still very anemic and a weak job market will keep it that way. However, several industries should still be smiling.
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New Home Builders
Zillow's Chief Economist, Stan Humphries, suggests that although foreclosures will rise later in the year due to the national foreclosure settlement, severe inventory shortages will ensure those homes are consumed by the market. At the recent Allen & Company Sun Valley conference, Warren Buffett remarked that Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE:BRK.B) housing-related businesses have seen a noticeable improvement in residential housing. It's not mind blowing but it does suggest that residential homebuilders like DR Horton (NYSE:DHI) and Lennar (NYSE:LEN) can expect better times ahead.
SEE: What To Expect From The Housing Market In The Remainder Of 2012
Tom Voss, Chief Economist at Credit Suisse, believes the housing market is hurting because of a combination of higher down payment requirements and skyrocketing student debt. Both of these make it tough for younger people to cobble together the funds to buy a house. As a result, 2011 saw just 306,000 single-family homes sold, the lowest figure since 1963 when the stat first was recorded. When you consider that as many as 1.3 million homes sold annually between 2003-2006, the slight increase to 370,000 or so in June, is a much-needed improvement. Companies such as Masco (NYSE:MAS) and Sherwin-Williams (NYSE:SHW), which supply materials to the home building industry, will see their revenues and more importantly, profits, gradually rebound. This can only help businesses reliant on housing, much like auto parts suppliers benefited from the rebound in the North American car business.
SEE: Have Housing Prices Bottomed Out?
Consumer confidence is a fragile thing. If employed Americans start to feel like their homes could one day be worth more than they were before the housing crisis began in 2006, I have to believe the purse strings will loosen. Between 2008 and 2011, the total number of annual restaurant visits in America declined by 2.1 billion to 60.6 billion. That's a trillion dollars or more in lost business. Hit especially hard by the recession have been smaller, mom-and-pop independents. Marketing budgets have something to do with restaurant goers favoring the chains. As housing prices rebound, independents will likely experience a rebirth. Either way, companies such as Sysco (NYSE:SYY) and the like will benefit.
The Bottom Line
Several other industries come to mind when thinking about housing rebounds. Just as Americans let their cars get a little older due to the recession and now are beginning to replace them, I think the same will hold true for people's homes. Sofas now four years older will be replaced, just as many of us replaced our sagging beds in 2010 and 2011. Eventually everything is renewed and some of the bigger ticket items in your home are likely at the top of that list.
At the time of writing, Will Ashworth did not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.