Builder confidence continues to rise
Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes rose for a fifth consecutive month in September to a level of 40 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today. The three-point rise brought the index to its highest point since June 2006.
"Builders across the country are expressing a more positive outlook on current sales conditions, future sales prospects and the amount of consumer traffic they are seeing through model homes than they have in more than five years," noted NAHB chief economist David Crowe. "However, against the improving demand for new homes, concerns are now rising about the lack of building lots in certain markets and the rising cost of building materials. Given the fragile nature of the housing and economic recovery, these are significant red flags."
Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for the past 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 higher than 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.
All three HMI components posted gains in September. While the component gauging current sales conditions increased four points to 42, the component gauging sales prospects in the next six months rose eight points to 51, and the component measuring traffic of prospective buyers edged up one point to 31.
Builder confidence also rose across every region of the country in September. Looking at the three-month moving average for each region, the Midwest and West each registered five-point gains, to 40 and 43, respectively, while the South posted a four-point gain to 36 and the Northeast posted a two-point gain to 30.
Judge restricts Facebook access in discrimination case
A federal judge has ruled that Home Depot was overly broad in seeking to obtain all Facebook, Twitter and other social networking posts made by a former employee now suing the retailer for unlawful discrimination.
According to a report by cnet.com, Danielle Mailhoit, a Home Depot store manager in Burbank, Calif., was fired after a 2010 investigation of her on-the-job performance. She filed a federal lawsuit in 2011, claiming her bad review and her termination were due to unlawful discrimination based on gender and vertigo, a physical disability her employer was already aware of.
Home Depot’s lawyers requested any photos, profiles, postings or messages from social networking sites from October 2005 — when Mailhoit claims she was first discriminated against — up until the present. A U.S. Magistrate ruled against them.
The judge did, however, grant Home Depot’s request for any posting by the plaintiff relating to her job or the lawsuit, including social networking communications between Mailhoit and any current or former Home Depot employees.
Home Depot has denied the claims. Mailhoit was terminated for “legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons," according to the company.
The Fed flexes its muscle; will it fix housing?
Remember the slogan “Fix housing first? The Federal Reserve might have finally caught on and is hoping to boost home sales and home refinances by buying billions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities.
We asked readers if this was a good idea. Here’s what we heard.
“It’s wonderful that the Fed thinks it can fix housing and then the economy. It can’t. All it has done is ensure a new housing bubble that will once again pin the losses on the taxpayer."
— Jim Taft
“I think it is a poor idea. Why should my tax money help the people who bought houses that they could not afford? Being in the building industry myself I have had to change my lifestyle. I have seen many material-supply houses close their doors and have not seen the government help them out.
"If government wants to boost the economy, why not give the money to taxpayers who are paying their bills and taxes? These people would in return buy products and services, which would put people back to work. We can give companies all kinds on money to bail them out, but if the general public does not have money to buy goods and services then there is no reason for companies to make products. It is simple economics when people have money, they will support the economy.”