Phoenix, Atlanta to Top U.S. New-Home Markets, Barclays Says

Phoenix, where foreclosures have surged and prices plummeted since the U.S. housing bubble burst, and Atlanta are the best potential markets for the sale of newly built homes, Barclays Capital said in a report today.

Atlanta has the potential for 47,317 new houses a year, followed by Phoenix with 46,485 and Dallas with 33,997, Jeff Meli, Vincent Foley, Cedric Morris and Robert Tayon, analysts with Barclays, wrote in the study. Phoenix leads 16 metro areas examined for potential revenue with $4.45 billion in new home sales. It’s followed by Washington with $3.94 billion and San Diego with $3.31 billion.

“The reality is that housing is a region-by-region story,” Foley said in a telephone interview from New York. “And most of the big public homebuilders are reasonably positioned to benefit from an upturn because they’re in the right markets.”

The projection for revived home construction in Phoenix, which the Barclays analysts called “surprising,” is based on the city’s growing population and speedy absorption of distressed real estate, according to the report. Barclays gave no time frame for its sales forecasts, which will occur after the cities “clear themselves of distressed inventory and excess supply,” it said.

“Regions that have pushed foreclosures through the pipeline quickly should see demand for new homes earlier than those that have allowed their backlog to grow,” Meli, Foley, Morris and Tayon wrote.

Second-Highest Foreclosures

Phoenix-area home prices are 56 percent below the June 2006 peak, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index, compared with a 32 percent decline for the 20 cities tracked by the index. The Phoenix metropolitan area had the second-highest rate of foreclosure filings in the first six months of this year, behind Las Vegas, with one in 28 households receiving a notice compared with a national average of one per 111 homes, RealtyTrac Inc. reported July 28.

“After falling to a low of 1.1 percent in 2009, population is expected to grow 2.6 percent annually in Phoenix for the next five years,” according to the Barclays report. “Such renewed inflows should support demand for new homes, leading to a recovery in several of the top 15 largest builders that have a presence in the region.”

Meritage Homes Corp., a Scottsdale, Arizona-based builder, has about 53 percent of its home sales in markets with the best outlook, the most of any company, Barclays reported. It’s followed by PulteGroup Inc. with 39 percent, D.R. Horton Inc. and MDC Holdings Inc. with 32 percent each, and KB Home with 31 percent.

Beazer, Ryland

Homebuilders with the smallest share in the best markets are M/I Homes Homes Inc. with 8 percent, Beazer Homes USA Inc. with 18 percent, Ryland Group Inc. and Toll Brothers Inc. with 19 percent each, and Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. with 23 percent, according to Barclays.

The 12-member Standard & Poor’s Supercomposite Homebuilding Index has fallen 26 percent this year.

“While improved operating performance may take several quarters to materialize, the recent selloff provides a potential entry point for some of the long risk recommendations that follow from our analysis,” the Barclays analysts said.

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