Builder Confidence Declines But Remains Solid Amid Rising Risks

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Contact: Elizabeth Thompson
(202) 266-8495
ethompson@nahb.org

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Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes fell two points to 72 in March, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today. Sentiment levels have held in a firm range in the low- to mid-70s for the past six months.

“Builder confidence remains solid, although sales expectations for the next six months dropped four points on economic uncertainty stemming from the coronavirus,” said NAHB Chairman Dean Mon, a home builder and developer from Shrewsbury, N.J. “Interest rates remain low, and a lack of inventory creates market opportunities for single-family builders.”

“It is important to note that half of the builder responses in the March HMI were collected prior to March 4, so the recent stock market declines and the rising economic impact of the coronavirus will be reflected more in next month’s report,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz.  “Overall, 21 percent of builders in the survey report some disruption in supply due to virus concerns in other countries such as China. However, the incidence is higher (33 percent) among builders who responded to the survey after March 6, indicating that this is an emerging issue.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 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 conditions as good than poor.

The HMI index gauging current sales conditions fell two points to 79, the component measuring sales expectations in the next six months dropped four points to 75 and the gauge charting traffic of prospective buyers also decreased one point to 56.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Midwest fell two points to  66, the South moved one point lower to 77 and the West posted a one-point decline to 82. The Northeast rose two points to 64.

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 found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.