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Builder Confidence Remains on Solid Footing

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes edged down one point to a level of 70 in March from a downwardly revised February reading on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the fourth consecutive month at or above a level of 70 for the HMI, an indication of strong single-family housing market conditions.

Builders’ optimism continues to be fueled by growing consumer demand for housing and confidence in the market. A strong labor market, rising incomes and a growing economy are boosting demand for homeownership even as interest rates rise.

However, builders are reporting challenges in finding buildable lots, which could limit their ability to meet this demand. Managing construction costs and future sales prices will be a key challenge in medium-term as costs associated with both land development and home construction continue to increase. Nonetheless, with positive economic fundamentals in place, the single-family sector should continue to make gains at a gradual pace in the months ahead.

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.

The HMI component gauging current sales conditions held steady at 77, the chart measuring sales expectations in the next six months dropped two points to 78, and the index gauging buyer traffic fell three points to 51.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast rose one point to 57, the South decreased one point to 73, the West fell two points to 79, and the Midwest dropped four points to 68.

The HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi.

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