Homebuilder Confidence Rises on Surging Sales Volume, Foot Traffic

Homebuilder Confidence 2009-2011Homebuilder confidence is rebounding sharply.

Just one month after falling to a multi-month low, the Housing Market Index rebounded four points to 18 for October. It’s the highest reading for the HMI since May 2010 — the month after last year’s homebuyer tax credit expiration.

The Housing Market Index is published monthly by the National Association of Homebuilders and is scored on a scale of 1-100. Readings above 50 indicate favorable conditions for homebuilders. Readings below 50 indicate unfavorable conditions.

The index has been below 50 since May 2006 — a 66-month streak.

The Housing Market Index is a composite reading; the result of three separate surveys sent to home builders each month. Builders are asked about current single-family home sales volume; projected single-family home sales volume over the next 6 months; and current “foot traffic”.

In October, builder responses were stronger in all 3 categories :

  • Current single-family sales : 18 (+4 from September)
  • Projected single-family sales : 24 (+7 from September)
  • Buyer foot traffic : 14 (+3 from September)

Meanwhile, of particular interest to today’s home buyers is that builders expect volume to surge over the next two seasons. And, with current sales volume rising and foot traffic strengthening, the fall and winter months could be strong ones in the new homes market.

In addition, the builder trade group press release states that rising costs for materials are squeezing building profit margins.

For buyers, it all adds up higher home prices ahead. As builders grow more confident about the housing market, they’re less likely to make concessions on pricing or upgrades. Rising building costs fortify that argument. The “great deal” will be tougher to negotiate. 

At least mortgage rates are low.

Low mortgage rates are keeping homes affordable in Ohio and nationwide. If you’re looking for the right time to buy new construction, therefore, this month may be it.

Homebuilder Confidence Stays Flat

Home builder confidence 2000-2011

Homebuilders are feeling worse about the market for new homes nationwide.

With construction credit tight and competition from foreclosures increasing, the National Association of Homebuilder’s Housing Market Index slipped 1 point in September, falling to levels just below the index’s 12-month average.

The HMI measures homebuilder confidence nationwide. It’s the result of 3 separate homebuilder surveys, each designed to measure a specific facet of the homebuilder’s business.

  1. How are market conditions for the sale of new homes today? 
  2. How are market conditions for the sale of new homes in 6 months?
  3. How is prospective buyer foot traffic?

Each component survey showed a drop-off from August. Responses fell 1 point, 2 points, and 2 points, respectively. Together, September’s composite reading was 14 out of a possible 100 points. Readings over 50 are considered favorable. 

The HMI not been above 50 since April 2006.

With homebuilder confidence low — and stagnant — buyers of new homes should remain alert for “deals”. Builders are more likely to offer free upgrades and other concessions to incoming buyers. The availability of such deals may increase as the seasons change and as the year comes to a close.

Low mortgage rates are making new homes attractive, too. Last week, 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates fell to their lowest levels of all-time. As compared to just 8 weeks ago, 30-year fixed rate mortgage payments are lower by 5 percent at all loan sizes, down $27 per month per $100,000 borrowed.

Homebuilders Expect A Soft Winter Housing Market

Homebuilder confidence 2009-2011

Two months after posting their worst confidence reading of 2011, home builders say they foresee no improvement in the immediate- or medium-term market for new homes nationwide.

In August, for the second straight month, the Housing Market Index read 15.

The HMI is a monthly housing survey, published by the National Association of Homebuilders. It’s scored on a scale of 1-100 with readings over 50 suggesting favorable home builder conditions. Readings under 50 suggest unfavorable conditions.

The Housing Market Index has been below the 50-point benchmark since 2006.

To calculate the HMI, home builders are asked 3 separate questions, each addressing the different element of the new home sales business.

  1. How are today’s market conditions for the sale of new homes?
  2. How do you expect market conditions to be 6 months from now?
  3. How are the current foot traffic of prospective buyers?

Based on the August answers to these questions, builders are witnessing an improvement with the current market, partially fueled by low mortgage rates, but expect momentum to fade into early-2012.

As a home buyer , this may bode well for you. If you can wait to buy a home, you may find builders more willing to concede on price or upgrades.

The other side of that conversation, though, is that while you may save money on the home, you may lose it in your monthly payments. Rising mortgage rates can quickly zap your savings — adding tens of thousands in interest costs to your budget long-term.

For now, home prices remain low and mortgage rates do, too. Home affordability is at an all-time high. Take advantage of what the market gives you.