June 15, 2011 - After holding at a low but steady level for the past six months, builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes declined three points in June to a reading of 13 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today. The last time the index was this low was in September of 2010.
"Builders are being squeezed by the continuing weakness in existing-home prices – against which they must compete -- as well as rising material costs," said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen, a home builder from Reno, Nev. "In addition to the ongoing impacts of distressed property sales on home prices, appraisal values and consumer confidence, rising costs for materials such as roofing, copper, wallboard, vinyl siding and other components have made it extremely difficult to construct a new home and sell it at a price that covers the costs."
"Builder confidence has waned even further as economic growth has stalled, foreclosures have continued to hit the market and the cost of building a home has risen," agreed NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "Meanwhile, potential new-home buyers are being constrained by difficulty selling their existing homes, stringent lending requirements, and general uncertainty about the economy. Economic growth must pick up in order for housing to gain the momentum it needs to get back on track."
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 from 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.
Every component of the HMI fell in June. The component gauging current sales conditions and the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers each fell two points, to 13 and 12, respectively. The component gauging sales expectations in the next six months fell four points to tie its record low score of 15 set in February and March of 2009.
The Northeast was the only region to post a gain in its HMI score for this June, rising two points to 17. Meanwhile, the Midwest dropped three points to 11, South dropped two points to 14 and the West posted a four-point decline to 12.
Special Announcement: A major new NAHB-commissioned poll of 2,000 likely 2012 voters confirms the high priority that Americans continue to place on homeownership even amidst the current struggling market -- as well as the voting public's strong support for continued federal tax incentives to promote homeownership and housing choice. Complete poll results can be viewed at: www.nahb.org/voterpoll.
Second Editor's Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be accessed online at: www.nahb.org/hmi. More information regarding housing statistics is also available at www.housingeconomics.com.