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Builders Continue Optimism
David Crowe / NAHB / July 16, 2013
The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index rose 6 points to 57, the highest since November 2005 and up 16 points in three months, the largest 3 month positive move since the recovery of 1991. All three subcomponents rose to highs not seen since 2005 or early 2006. Expectations for the next 6 months rose 7 points to 67; current sales rose 5 points to 60 and traffic rose 5 points to 45.
Similarly, all four regions’ three-month moving average increased; Northeast up 4 points to 40, Midwest up 8 points to 54, South up 5 points to 50 and West up 3 points to 51. The broad improvement in all components and regions is further evidence of the breadth of the recovery. The NAHB/First American Improving Markets index has contained over 70% of all markets for 5 consecutive months.
Builders have experienced a continued rise in customer interest and willingness to buy. The low inventory of existing homes has also helped to boost demand for new homes and competition from foreclosures has diminished. Some softening in the severe rise in material costs early this year has helped builders compete. Some slight improvement in access to credit and the extremely conservative appraisals have also improved builders ability to build and sell.
Head winds remain, especially finding lots to build on and construction labor to meet the rising demand. NAHB expects housing construction to continue to rise at a modest pace for the remainder of 2013 with some pick up in the rate of building in 2014 as the economy and labor markets move toward trend.