Home Builder Confidence "Building": Will Buyers Follow?


I have to say I was not surprised that home builder sentiment ticked up two points this month after seven straight months of decline.

After all, the backstopping of Fannie and Freddie and the ensuing drop in mortgage rates are clearly a boon for builders, in addition the the new home buyer tax credit passed in the housing bill this summer.

The survey from the National Association of Home Builders measures current sales, buyer traffic and sales expectations over the next six months. The first two ticked up one point each but the view of the next six months ticked up a pretty large six points.

I think that says that things are slow and will likely remain slow for the fall, but perhaps we can expect a real spring season. Of course, that's all contingent on the mortgage market and foreclosures, which are still a wild card in all of this. I'm not convinced that mortgage delinquencies are going to abate quickly, despite efforts by lenders to help their clients.

Realtors are still telling me that the biggest barrier to existing sales is confidence; I guess if the builder confidence is, well, building, buyer confidence could follow.

Questions? Comments? RealtyCheck@cnbc.com