Builder Confidence Falls Slightly in March

The component gauging sales conditions declined while two other components posted gains.

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes paused for a third consecutive month in March, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. The HMI fell two points to 44.

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“Following eight consecutive months of improvement, builder confidence leveled off in January and has since edged down several points,” said NAHB chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “Although many of our members are reporting increased demand for new homes in their markets, their enthusiasm is being tempered by frustrating bottlenecks in the supply chain for developed lots along with rising costs for building materials and labor. At the same time, problems with appraisals and credit availability remain considerable obstacles to completing deals.”

While the HMI component gauging current sales conditions declined four points to 47, the component gauging sales expectations in the next six months and the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers both posted gains, of one point to 51 and three points to 35, respectively, in March.

Three-month moving averages for each region’s HMI score were also mixed. The Northeast was unchanged at 39; the Midwest and South posted one-point declines to 47 and 46, respectively; and the West registered a four-point increase to 58.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 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 from 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.

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