Builders’ con­fi­dence high­est in 61/2 years


Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS - Con­tin­ued from B

build­ings, which tends to fluc­tu­ate sharply, dipped 1 per­cent in Novem­ber.

Hous­ing starts were 21.6 per­cent higher last month than in Novem­ber 2011. Hous­ing starts are far above the an­nual rate of 478,000 touched in April 2009, the re­ces­sion low. They’re still well short of the roughly 1.5 mil­lion an­nual rate con­sis­tent with a healthy mar­ket.

But numer­ous signs sug­gest that the hous­ing mar­ket is pick­ing up. Builder con­fi­dence rose in De­cem­ber for a sev­enth straight month to the high­est level in more than 6½ years, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey re­leased Tues­day by the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Home Builders/ Wells Fargo.

The in­dex of builder sen­ti­ment rose two points to 47, the high­est since 2006. Builders are more op­ti­mistic about cur­rent sales and buyer traf­fic, the sur­vey found.

Read­ings be­low 50 still sig­nal neg­a­tive sen­ti­ment about the hous­ing mar­ket. But the in­dex has been ris­ing since Oc­to­ber 2011, when it was 17.

More peo­ple are look­ing for a new house or apart­ment, en­cour­aged by mod­est job gains, a grad­u­ally im­prov­ing econ­omy and mort­gage rates near record-low lev­els. At the same time, fewer homes are avail­able for sale. The low sup­ply is help­ing lift prices.

Sales of pre­vi­ously oc­cu­pied homes rose 2.1 per­cent in Oc­to­ber. Newhome sales fell slightly that month, slowed by steep de­clines in the North­east from Su­per­storm Sandy. But they were still 17 per­cent higher that month than in the same month a year ago.

Sandy struck the East Coast on Oct. 29, dis­rupt­ing busi­nesses and cut­ting off power to 8 mil­lion homes in 10 states.

Though new homes rep­re­sent less than 20 per­cent of the hous­ing sales mar­ket, they have an out­size im­pact on the econ­omy. Each home built cre­ates an av­er­age of three jobs for a year and gen­er­ates about $90,000 in tax rev­enue, ac­cord­ing to data from the home­builders as­so­ci­a­tion.

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