The U.S. Census Bureau & the Department of Housing & Urban Development released its December and total 2015 statistics on new residential starts in the U.S. There were no real surprises with the data, but predicting U.S. housing starts has been virtually impossible for analysts and economists.

WOOD MARKETS has conducted its own U.S. housing forecasts since 2007 when about that time, consensus forecasts became wildly inaccurate. Since then, WOOD MARKETS has repeatedly highlighted that a structural change has been occurring in the U.S. housing market and the use of traditional economic models will not work until much later in the cycle. As a result, WOOD MARKETS own housing forecasts have been decidedly more conservative as compared to all other economists’ forecasts. Since 2007, our housing and supply/demand forecasts have been much closer to the actual results as compared to the many dozens of professional economists and modelers.

The key take-away message is this: The Consensus forecasts continue to be too high – with some being way off the charts. For those that use housing forecasts in their business plans, using the consensus forecasts in 2014 of 770,000 single family housing starts would have resulted in forecasts of almost 2 billion board feet of extra lumber demand. This type of forecasted demand increase would have suggested a much tighter supply and demand balance, where higher lumber price forecasts could be another one of the wrong predictions.

And WOOD MARKETS’ U.S. housing forecast for 2016 (in WOOD MARKETS 2016) is once again lower than the Consensus forecast – no surprise here. And our consultants have a decidedly conservative tone to North America and Chinese demand as well as prices for 2016 – all predicted before any signs of the current global economic volatility started.

From International Wood Markets: