It's party time for Americans who work in, and make money off of, the U.S. housing market.
With the spring housing market only weeks away, the early numbers show a rising real estate sector and reflect equally bullish numbers from housing stocks and funds, especially home construction exchange-traded funds.
Take the iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF (ITB) , which is up 10.88% on a year-to-date basis, versus a 6.6% return by the S&P 500 over the same time period. The fund holds 44 stocks, including housing sector stalwarts like Lennar (LEN) , Toll Brothers (TOL) , Home Depot (HD) and Lowe's (LOW) , and boasts a top "1" ranking by Zacks.
The sector also includes the SPDR Homebuilders ETF (XHB) , up 8.57% on a year-to-date basis. The fund is basically split into three categories, including building products (31.98% of the fund); homebuilding (30.94%); and home furnishings (11.23%), and top holdings include Williams-Sonoma (WSM) (4.92%), Bed Bath & Beyond (4.78%) and Toll Brothers (4.76%), thus offering a risk guardrail in the event one sector lost some luster.
Other financial industry gurus tout another housing market fund -- iShares Global Timber & Forestry (WOOD) . "Lumber is a large part of the home building process and WOOD gives investors access to the diversified global timber market," says Ryan Bayonnet, a certified financial planner with Hyland Financial Planning, near Cleveland, Ohio. "The fund holds a diversified 25 stocks, with its top three holdings being the timber giants West Fraser Timber (WFT) , Weyerhaeuser and Rayonier. WOOD is the cheapest and most diversified way to capitalize on this part of the home building process and only costs $47 a year (in fees) on a $10,000 investment."