Housing Market Index Drops One Point

Concerns about the faltering economy and reluctant home buyers pushed builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes down further in January, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The HMI edged down a single point to a new record low of 8 in January.

The NAHB is advocating an enhanced home buyer tax credit and a government buy-down of mortgage rates for home purchases in 2009 – moves that the group says would rejuvenate demand for homes and trigger significant consumer spending across the board.

"Builder views continue to track with historically low consumer confidence measures," says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "The fact that there has been microscopic movement in the historically low HMI and its component indexes over the last three months provides further evidence of the need for government action to rejuvenate housing demand. Qualified buyers are clearly in the wings, but they're looking for a significant signal from the federal government that now is the time to return to the market."

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for more than 20 years, the 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 sales conditions as good than poor.

All of the HMI's component indexes remained at or near historic lows in January. The index gauging current sales conditions recorded the greatest change, with a two-point decline to 6. Meanwhile, the indexes gauging sales expectations for the next six months and traffic of prospective buyers each rose a single point, to 17 and 8, respectively.

SOURCE: National Association of Home Builders


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