Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NAHB: Builder Confidence increases Slightly in September

by Calculated Risk on 9/16/2009 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 19 in September from 18 in August. 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 September release for the HMI compared to the July 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 Edges Up Again In September

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes edged higher for a third consecutive month in September, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today. The HMI rose one point to 19 this month, its highest level since May of 2008.

Builders are seeing some improvement in buyer demand as a result of the first-time home buyer tax credit, and low mortgage rates and strong housing affordability have also helped to revive some optimism,” noted Joe Robson, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Tulsa, Okla. “However, the window is now basically closed for being able to start a new home that can be completed in time for buyers to take advantage of the tax credit before it expires at the end of November, and builders are concerned about what will keep the market moving once the credit is gone. ....”

“Today’s report indicates that builders are starting to see some glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel in terms of improving sales activity,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “However, the fact that the HMI component gauging sales expectations for the next six months slipped backward this month is a sign of their awareness that this is a very fragile recovery period and several major hurdles remain that could stifle the positive momentum. Those hurdles include the impending expiration of the $8,000 tax credit as well as the critical lack of credit for housing production loans and continuing problems with low appraisals that are sinking one quarter of all new-home sales. These concerns need to be addressed if we are to embark on a sustained housing recovery that will help bolster economic growth.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for more than 20 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 sales conditions as good than poor.

Two out of three of the HMI’s component indexes recorded gains in September. The index gauging current sales conditions rose two points to 18, while the index gauging traffic of prospective buyers rose one point, to 17. Meanwhile, the index gauging sales expectations for the next six months declined one point, to 29.

All four regions posted gains in their HMI readings for September. The biggest improvement was registered in the Midwest, where a three-point gain brought its HMI to 19, the highest level since July of 2007. The Northeast posted a two-point gain to 24, the South posted a two-point gain to 19, and the West posted a one-point gain to 18, respectively.
emphasis added