WASHINGTON, MAY 18 -- Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes improved for a second consecutive month in May to the highest level since September of 2008, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released last week. The HMI rose two points to 16 this month.
"Builders are responding to what they perceive to be some of the best home buying conditions of a lifetime," said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson, a home builder from Tulsa, Okla. "You're not likely to get a better deal in terms of mortgage rates than what's available right now. Combine that with the affordable prices, multitude of home choices and $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers that are now available, and you have a very appealing set of reasons to make a move."
"The fact that the May HMI continued to tick up from April's five-point increase provides confirming evidence that the improved confidence level was no fluke," added NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "This continued increase indicates that home builders feel we're at or near the bottom of the market and that positive signs lie ahead for builders and potential home buyers, provided that builder access to production credit significantly improves."
Crowe also noted that recent announcements by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that would enable home buyers to use the new $8,000 tax credit at the closing table are especially encouraging. "We appreciate Secretary Donovan's efforts to make the tax credit more useful to buyers by addressing the biggest hurdle to first-time purchasers -- having enough cash for a suitable down payment," he said.
Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for more than 20 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI 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.
Two out of three of the HMI's component indexes rose in May. The index gauging current sales conditions rose two points to 14, while the index gauging sales expectations for the next six months rose three points to 27. The index gauging traffic of prospective buyers remained unchanged, at 13.
Regionally, the Northeast posted a three-point gain in its HMI score, to 18, while the South posted a one-point gain to 18, the West rose four points to 12, and the Midwest held even at 14.