After leaping decisively into positive territory in July, home builder sentiment pulled another surprise in August.
A monthly index from the National Association of Home Builders measuring confidence among single-family home builders rose 2 points to 55; analysts had expected the index to hold unchanged at its July level, after steep drops in new home sales and housing starts from June to July.
A reading above 50 is considered positive sentiment. This is the third-consecutive monthly gain and puts the index at its highest level since January.
"As the employment picture brightens, builders are seeing a noticeable increase in the number of serious buyers entering the market," said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Delaware. "However, builders still face a number of challenges, including tight credit conditions for borrowers and shortages of finished lots and labor."