Home builder sentiment rises 4 points to 56 in April

Spring is finding home builders in a sunnier mood as sales appear to be blooming.

Sentiment among the nation's home builders rose four points in April to a level of 56, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index.

The Index measures builder perceptions of current single family homes sales, sales expectations for the next six months, and it rates buyer traffic. The component measuring future sales rose five points to its highest level of the year. Sales expectations in the next six months jumped five points to 64, and the index measuring buyer traffic rose four points to 41.

New home sales construction
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Any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good.

"As the spring buying season gets underway, home builders are confident that current low interest rates and continued job growth will draw consumers to the market," said National Association of Home Builders Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Missouri, in a press release.

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Builders in hot markets are feeling positive, but holding back construction on labor shortages. Oakwood Homes in Denver limits the number of lots it releases each week to make sure it can keep up with demand. "We released four of our home sites last Saturday and we had 44 pre-approved buyers that wanted those four home sites," said Pat Hamill, Oakwood's CEO. The builder did a drawing to pick who would buy the homes and hopes those not picked will stay interested.

CB Jeni Homes, which builds in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, is finding strong sales and traffic for its lower priced townhomes, as sales for higher priced homes have softened slightly from a year ago. But it, too, is careful not to offer more than they can deliver.

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"We control sales and production very strictly because of the prolonged vendor shortage here in Dallas. It is a complete whipping getting a home built," said CB Jeni Homes founder Bruno Pasquinelli.

Housing starts have showed weakness, falling a sharp 17 percent in February. But the reading for March comes out of the Commerce Department Thursday is expected to show a 15.7 percent bump up to 1.038 million annualized rate.