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Builder confidence rises in May

Lumber’s high prices makes it tough for builders to produce competitively priced homes for newcomers.

BY HBSDealer Staff

Additional proof that consumer interest in single-family homes is at a strong level was provided by the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose two points to a level of 70 in May after a downwardly revised April reading on the HMI. This is the fourth time the HMI has reached 70 or higher this year.

“The solid May report shows that builders are buoyed by growing consumer demand for single-family homes,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel, a custom home builder from LaPlace, La. “However, the record-high cost of lumber is hurting builders’ bottom lines and making it more difficult to produce competitively priced houses for newcomers to the market.”

“Tight housing inventory, employment gains and demographic tailwinds should continue to boost demand for newly-built single-family homes,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “With these fundamentals in place, the housing market should improve at a steady, gradual pace in the months ahead.”

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 chart gauging current sales conditions increased two points to 76 in May while the indexes measuring buyer traffic and expectations in the next six months remained unchanged at 51 and 77, respectively.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the West and Northeast held steady at 76 and 55, respectively. Meanwhile, the South and Midwest each edged down one point to respective levels of 72 and 65.

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