Washington, D.C.—Solid demand, a lack of existing inventory and improving supply chain efficiency helped shift builder confidence into positive territory for the first time in 11 months, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes in June rose five points to 55, according to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This marks the sixth straight month that builder confidence has increased and is the first time that sentiment levels have surpassed the midpoint of 50 since July 2022.
“Builders are feeling cautiously optimistic about market conditions given low levels of existing home inventory and ongoing gradual improvements for supply chains,” said NAHB chairman Alicia Huey, a custom home builder and developer from Birmingham, Ala. “However, access for builder and developer loans has become more difficult to obtain over the last year, which will ultimately result in lower lot supplies as the industry tries to expand off cycle lows.”
Robert Dietz, NAHB chief economist, added, “A bottom is forming for single-family home building as builder sentiment continues to gradually rise from the beginning of the year. This month marks the first time in a year that both the current and future sales components of the HMI have exceeded 60, as some buyers adjust to a new normal in terms of interest rates. The Federal Reserve nearing the end of its tightening cycle is also good news for future market conditions in terms of mortgage rates and the cost of financing for builder and developer loans.”
Dietz further noted the Fed and Washington policymakers must factor into consideration how the state of home building is critical for the inflation outlook and the future of monetary policy.
“Shelter cost growth is now the leading source of inflation, and such costs can only be tamed by building more affordable, attainable housing—for-sale, for-rent, multifamily and single-family,” he said. “By addressing supply chain issues, the skilled labor shortage and reducing or eliminating inefficient regulatory policies such as exclusionary zoning, policymakers can play an important and much-needed role in the fight against inflation.”
And in another sign of gradual optimism for the state of demand for single-family homes, the June HMI survey shows that overall, builders are gradually pulling back on sales incentives:
- 25% of builders reduced home prices to bolster sales in June. The share was 27% in May and 30% in April. It has declined steadily since peaking at 36% in November 2022.
- The average price reduction was 7% in June, below the 8% rate in December 2022.
- 56% of builders offered incentives to buyers in June, slightly more than in May (54%), but fewer than in December 2022 (62%).
Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for more than 35 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI 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 major HMI indices posted gains in June. The HMI index gauging current sales conditions rose five points to 61, the component charting sales expectations in the next six months increased six points to 62 and the gauge measuring traffic of prospective buyers increased four points to 37.
Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast edged up two points to 47, the Midwest increased four points to 43, the South moved three points higher to 55 and the West posted a five-point gain to 46.