Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes remained on firm ground in January, down two points to a level of 67 from a downwardly revised December reading of 69 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).
The solid reading is consistent with building expectations heading into the new year. NAHB expects 10 percent growth in single-family construction in 2017, adding to the gains of 2016. However, ongoing industry concerns include rising mortgage interest rates as well as a lack of lots and access to labor.
The HMI rose sharply in December as the election results raised hopes among builders that a new Congress and administration will help create a better business climate for small businesses, particularly with respect to improving regulatory costs, which increased more than 29% over the last five years.
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.
All three HMI components retreated in January. The component gauging current sales conditions fell three points to 72, the index charting sales expectations in the next six months registered a two-point decline to 76 and the component measuring buyer traffic edged one-point lower to 51.
Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast rose two points to 52 and the Midwest posted a three-point gain to 64. The South and West each held steady at 67 and 79, respectively.