Homebuilder confidence in the market for new single-family homes was unchanged in March, according to a new survey released on Monday.
Confidence on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index was steady at 28. Fifty is the line between positive and negative sentiment. After five consecutive months of increases, the index is now holding at its highest level since June 2007.
“While builders are still very cautious at this time, there is a sense that many local housing markets have started to move in the right direction and that prospects for future sales are improving,” said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a homebuilder from Gainesville, Florida. “This is demonstrated by the fact that the HMI component measuring builder expectations continued climbing for a sixth straight month in March, to its highest level in more than four years.”
The index’s three components were a mixed bag in March. The component measuring sales expectations for the next six months gained two points to 36 while the gauge measuring traffic of prospective buyers was unchanged at 22. The component measuring current sales conditions fell one point to 29.
Although the index was unchanged, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe found reason for optimism.
“Builder confidence is now twice as strong as it was six months ago, and the West was the only region to experience a decline this month following an unusual spike in February,” Crowe said. “That said, many of our members continue to cite obstacles on the road to recovery, including persistently tight builder and buyer credit and the ongoing inventory of distressed properties in some markets.”
Regionally, the index fell 10 points in the West after it posted a 22-point gain in February while it rose five points to 25 in the Northeast, two points to 32 in the Midwest and two points to 27 in the South.