U.S. home­builder con­fi­dence holds steady in Novem­ber

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - MARKETPLACE - By Alex Veiga AP Busi­ness Writer

U.S. home­builders’ con­fi­dence held steady this month, though their ex­pec­ta­tions for sales into next year dimmed slightly.

The Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sen­ti­ment in­dex re­leased Wed­nes­day was un­changed at 63. That’s two points be­low Septem­ber’s read­ing, which was the high­est in nearly a year, and up one point from a year ago.

Read­ings above 50 in­di­cate more builders view sales con­di­tions as good rather than poor. The in­dex has been above 60 the past three months after hov­er­ing in the high 50s much of this year.

The lat­est builder sen­ti­ment in­dex is in line with what an­a­lysts polled by Fac­tSet were ex­pect­ing.

Builders’ view of cur­rent sales held steady from last month, while a gauge of traf­fic by prospec­tive buy­ers edged higher. But their out­look for sales over the next six months de­clined slightly.

Even so, builders re­main op­ti­mistic over­all about new home sales, which are run­ning ahead of last year’s pace.

“On­go­ing job creation, ris­ing in­comes and at­trac­tive mort­gage rates are sup­port­ing de­mand in the sin­gle-fam­ily hous­ing sec­tor,” said Robert Di­etz, the NAHB’s chief econ­o­mist. “This will help keep hous­ing on a steady, up­ward glide path in the months ahead.”

Sales of new U.S. homes hit a sea­son­ally ad­justed an­nual rate of 593,000 units as of Septem­ber, up nearly 30 per­cent from a year ear­lier. Oc­to­ber newhome sales fig­ures are due out next week.

In all, sales of new homes were up 13 per­cent through the first nine months of this year com­pared to the same pe­riod in 2015.

A healthy job mar­ket and low in­ter­est rates have bol­stered de­mand for new homes and fu­eled con­struc­tion of sin­gle-fam­ily homes this year.

Still, builders com­plain new con­struc­tion is be­ing ham­pered by a short­age of skilled la­bor and ris­ing costs for ready-to-build land parcels in many mar­kets.

This month’s builder in­dex was based on 325 re­spon­dents.

A mea­sure of cur­rent sales con­di­tions for sin­gle-fam­ily homes held steady at 69, while a gauge of traf­fic by prospec­tive buy­ers rose one point to 47. Builders’ view of sales over the next six months fell two points to 69.

On a re­gional ba­sis, the in­dex found builder sen­ti­ment im­proved in the North­east, Mid­west and West, but was un­changed in the South.

Though new homes rep­re­sent only a frac­tion of the hous­ing mar­ket, they have an out­sized 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 NAHB data.

PHELAN M. EBENHACK - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In this Feb. 13, 2015, photo, con­struc­tion worker David Rager frames a win­dow in the up­per floor of a two-story cus­tom home be­ing built in Or­lando, Fla. U.S. home­builders’ con­fi­dence held steady this month, though their ex­pec­ta­tions for sales into next year dimmed slightly. The Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sen­ti­ment in­dex re­leased Wed­nes­day, was un­changed at 63. That’s two points be­low Septem­ber’s read­ing, which was the high­est in nearly a year.

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