WASHINGTON -- Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes was unchanged in March at a level of 58 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).
"Confidence levels are hovering above the 50-point mid-range, indicating that the single-family market continues to make slow but steady progress," said NAHB Chairman Ed Brady, a home builder and developer from Bloomington, Ill. "However, builders continue to report problems regarding a shortage of lots and labor."
"While builder sentiment has been relatively flat for the last few months, the March HMI reading correlates with NAHB's forecast of a steady firming of the single-family sector in 2016," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "Solid job growth, low mortgage rates and improving mortgage availability will help keep the housing market on a gradual upward trajectory in the coming months."
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 65 in March while the index measuring sales expectations in the next six months fell three points to 61. The component charting buyer traffic rose four points to 43.
Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Midwest posted a one-point gain to 58 while the South was unchanged at 59. The West registered a three-point decline to 69 while the Northeast fell one point to 46.