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Rising Costs Put Squeeze on Builder Confidence in April

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Facing increasing costs for building materials and rising concerns about the supply of developed lots and labor, builders registered less confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes in April, with a two-point drop to 42 on the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index (HMI), released recently.

“Many builders are expressing frustration over being unable to respond to the rising demand for new homes due to difficulties in obtaining construction credit, overly restrictive mortgage lending rules and construction costs that are increasing at a faster pace than appraised values,” says Rick Judson, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman and a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “While sales conditions are generally improving, these challenges are holding back new building and job creation.”

“Supply chains for building materials, developed lots and skilled workers will take some time to re-establish themselves following the recession, and in the meantime builders are feeling squeezed by higher costs and limited availability issues,” explains NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “That said, builders’ outlook for the next six months has improved due to the low inventory of for-sale homes, rock bottom mortgage rates and rising consumer confidence.”

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 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.

While the HMI component gauging current sales conditions declined two points to 45 and the component gauging buyer traffic declined four points to 30 in April, the component gauging sales expectations in the next six months posted a three-point gain to 53 – its highest level since February of 2007.

Looking at three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast was unchanged at 38 in April while the Midwest registered a two-point decline to 45, the South registered a four-point decline to 42 and the West posted a three-point decline to 55.

For more information, visit www.nahb.org or www.housingeconomics.com.

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