Home Builder Confidence Remains Depressed in November

The National Association of Home Builders reported that home builder confidence index rose to 16, up 1 point from last month. It should be noted that a reading below 50 signals depressed conditions for the majority of home builders in the US. The index has been bouncing around the bottom for the past 2 years. On the bright side of the report, home builders expect market conditions to improve in the future. Hope springs eternal. Historically, home builder confidence has been closely correlated to housing starts, so we may see another slight increase in housing starts. From the NAHB:
Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes improved slightly in November, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today. The HMI rose one notch to 16 from a downwardly revised level of 15 in the previous month.

"Though the gains have been incremental, the fact that builder confidence has improved over the past two months is encouraging," said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, a home builder from Bloomfield Hills, Mich. "Many builders are reporting that while the quantity of buyer traffic through their model homes has not improved dramatically, the quality of that traffic seems to be getting better – meaning that more people appear to be serious about buying in the near future. Builders remain very concerned, however, about the lack of available financing for new-home construction at a time when inventories of completed new homes are quite thin; after all, you can't sell what you can't build."

"The most positive aspect of today's report is the future expectations component, which not only held onto the five-point gain it registered in October, but improved by an additional two points to 25 for November," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "This is the highest that component of the HMI has been since the home buyer tax credit program spurred sales activity this spring." At the same time, he noted, "The most concerning aspect of the report is that survey participants say they have observed absolutely no improvement in their ability to access credit to build viable new projects. This problem is clearly a roadblock to recovery in many markets."

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