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February 2017

Labor costs, availability top list of builder concerns for 2017

More than eight in every 10 builders (82 percent) said the cost and availability of labor is their number one challenge this year, up from 78 percent who cited it is their primary concern in 2016.

Builders were asked to identify and rank the challenges they encountered in 2016 and expect to face in 2017 as part of a set of "special" questions for the monthly NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. 

Concern about cost/availability of labor has grown steadily since 2011 when only 13 percent of the builders who took part in the survey cited it as a significant issue.

The second biggest worry for builders is the cost/availability of developed lots. Sixty percent of respondents listed it as a "significant problem," a decline from last year when two-thirds (67 percent) rated it as a big concern.

In reporting the findings, NAHB officials said both the availability of labor and lots highlight the expected constraints of a recovering housing market.

Rounding out the list of top 10 problems builders expect to face in 2017 are:

#3.   Impact/hook-up/inspection or other fees (60%)
#4.   Federal environmental regulations and policies (58%)
#5.   Regulation of banking/financial institutions (55%)
#6.   Local/state environmental regulations and policies (52%)
#7.   Inaccurate appraisals (49%)
#8.   Building material prices (48%)
#9.   Development standards (parking, setbacks, etc.)
#10. Health insurance (52%)