Monday, August 17, 2009

NAHB: Builder Confidence Slightly Higher in August

by Calculated Risk on 8/17/2009 01:00:00 PM

Residential NAHB Housing Market Index Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the builder confidence index from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

The housing market index (HMI) increased to 18 in August from 17 in July. The record low was 8 set in January.

This is still very low - and this is what I've expected - a long period of builder depression.

Note: any number under 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as poor than good.

New Home Sales Correlation This second graph compares the NAHB HMI (left scale) with new home sales and single family housing starts (right scale). This is the August release for the HMI compared to the June data for starts and sales.

This shows that the HMI, single family starts and new home sales mostly move in the same direction - although there is plenty of noise month-to-month.

NOTE: For purposes of determining if starts are above or below sales, you have to use the quarterly data by intent. You can't compare the monthly total single family starts directly to new home sales, because single family starts include several categories not included in sales (like owner built units and high rise condos).

Press release from the NAHB (added):

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes rose one point in August to its highest level in more than a year, according to the latest reading of the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today. Building on a two-point gain in July, the HMI reached 18 this month, its highest point since June of 2008.

“Home builder expectations have been buoyed by the success of the first-time home buyer tax credit and its anticipated boost to buying activity leading up to the Nov. 30 expiration date,” said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson, a home builder from Tulsa, Okla. “The question is what happens after that ..."
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“One very positive aspect of today’s report is the big gain registered in the component gauging home builders’ expectations for the next six months,” noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “This reflects anticipated sales stemming from the tax credit as well as recent signs that an economic recovery has begun. There is definitely a sense of hope among builders that the worst of the downturn is over and that a turning point is near at hand.”
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NAHB is calling on Congress to extend the first-time home buyer tax credit for another year and to offer it to all income-eligible buyers.