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NAHB: Builder Confidence Increased in January

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported the housing market index (HMI) was at 35, up from 31 last month. Any number below 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as poor than good.

From the NAHB: Builder Confidence Uptick Signals Turning Point for Housing Lies Ahead
A modest drop in interest rates helped to end a string of 12 straight monthly declines in builder confidence levels, although sentiment remains in bearish territory as builders continue to grapple with elevated construction costs, building material supply chain disruptions and challenging affordability conditions.

Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes in January rose four points to 35, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today.

“It appears the low point for builder sentiment in this cycle was registered in December, even as many builders continue to use a variety of incentives, including price reductions, to bolster sales,” said NAHB Chairman Jerry Konter, a home builder and developer from Savannah, Ga. “The rise in builder sentiment also means that cycle lows for permits and starts are likely near, and a rebound for home building could be underway later in 2023.”

“While NAHB is forecasting a decline for single-family starts this year compared to 2022, it appears a turning point for housing lies ahead,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “In the coming quarters, single-family home building will rise off of cycle lows as mortgage rates are expected to trend lower and boost housing affordability. Improved housing affordability will increase housing demand, as the nation grapples with a structural housing deficit of 1.5 million units.”

All three HMI indices posted gains for the first time since December 2021. The HMI index gauging current sales conditions in January rose four points to 40, the component charting sales expectations in the next six months increased two points to 37 and the gauge measuring traffic of prospective buyers increased three points to 23.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the West registered a one-point gain to 27, the South held steady at 36, the Northeast fell four points to 33 and the Midwest dropped two points to 32.
emphasis added Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the NAHB index since Jan 1985.

This was above the consensus forecast. 

The “traffic of prospective buyers” is still well below breakeven at 23 (below 50).

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