Monday, August 17, 2020

NAHB: Builder Confidence Increased to 78 in August, Ties Record High

by Calculated Risk on 8/17/2020 08:26:00 AM

Update: The headline number was released early. This update includes the press release.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported the housing market index (HMI) was at 78, up from 72 in July. Any number above 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.

From the NAHB: Builder Confidence Matches All-Time High on Record Traffic

In a sign that housing continues to lead the economy forward, builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes increased six points to 78 in August, according to the latest NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today. The HMI now stands at its highest reading in the 35-year history of the series, matching the record that was set in December 1998.

“The demand for new single-family homes continues to be strong, as low interest rates and a focus on the importance of housing has stoked buyer traffic to all-time highs as measured on the HMI,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke. “However, the V-shaped recovery for housing has produced a staggering increase for lumber prices, which have more than doubled since mid-April. Such cost increases could dampen momentum in the housing market this fall, despite historically low interest rates.”

“Housing has clearly been a bright spot during the pandemic and the sharp rebound in builder confidence over the summer has led NAHB to upgrade its forecast for single-family starts, which are now projected to show only a slight decline for 2020,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Single-family construction is benefiting from low interest rates and a noticeable suburban shift in housing demand to suburbs, exurbs and rural markets as renters and buyers seek out more affordable, lower density markets.”
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All the HMI indices posted gains in August. The HMI index gauging current sales conditions rose six points to 84, the component measuring sales expectations in the next six months increased three points to 78 and the measure charting traffic of prospective buyers posted an eight-point gain to reach its highest level ever at 65.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast jumped 20 points to 65, the Midwest increased 13 points to 63, the South rose 12 points to 71 and the West increased 15 points to 78.
NAHB HMI Click on graph for larger image.

This graph show the NAHB index since Jan 1985.

This was above the consensus forecast.

Housing and homebuilding have been one of the best performing sectors during the pandemic.