This past year–2010–may be remembered best as the year when many important things didn’t happen. We didn’t have the big rebound (20% to 30%) in starts that most housing economists forecasted before the year began. Banks didn’t start making AD&C loans to builders again. And nothing was done about the long-term status of mortgage market powerhouses Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
But plenty of things did transpire to make 2010 an eventful year. First, the home buyer tax credit, which probably commanded the most headlines and attention in the industry and mainstream consumer press, juiced sales in the spring, but left the industry with a summer hangover. Banks imposed a moratorium on foreclosures, after processing irregularities were revealed, yet they still outsold new-home builders for the year by a wide margin. And a handful of builders started reporting profits again, thanks in part to a liberalization of net operating loss carryback rules.