Builder confidence battles weather

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2015 -Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes in February fell two points to a level of 55 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today.

“Overall, builder sentiment remains fairly solid, with this slight downturn largely attributable to the unusually high snow levels across much of the nation,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo.

“For the past eight months, confidence levels have held in the mid- to upper 50s range, which is consistent with a modest, ongoing recovery,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Solid job growth, affordable home prices and historically low mortgage rates should help unleash growing pent-up demand and keep the housing market moving forward in the year ahead.”

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Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

Two of the three HMI components posted losses in February. The component gauging current sales conditions edged one point lower to 61 while the component measuring buyer traffic fell five points to 39. The gauge charting sales expectations in the next six months held steady at 60.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast fell a single point to 46, and the Midwest and South each posted a two-point drop to 54 and 57, respectively. The West rose two points to 68.