As Buyer Traffic Grows, Homebuilder Confidence Slips

NAHB Homebuilder Confidence Survey

Homebuilder confidence is falling -- a good sign for buyers of newly-built homes in and around Bridge Mill.

According to the National Association of Homebuilders, the Housing Market Index slipped one point to 16 in April. It's the 5th time in 6 months that the index read 16 -- a figure exactly in line with the 1-year average, but still considered "poor". The Housing Market Index reports on a scale of 1-100.

Values of 50 or better representing "favorable conditions". Values below 50 are considered "unfavorable".

It's been 5 years since the Housing Market Index read north of 50.

As an index, the HMI is actually a composite of three separate surveys, the results of which can be as telling as the final, compiled results. The surveys focus on specific aspects about a homebuilder's business, and use the broader responses to gauge overall market "sentiment".

The 3 questions are: 

  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?

In April, interestingly, home builders felt market conditions were worse across the board, but still cited higher buyer foot traffic. This may be the result of a combination of rising mortgage rates and falling home values. Both tend to be bad for builders, and both tend to spur home buyers into action.

As a home buyer this spring, therefore, use the HMI data to your advantage. When home builders feel less confident on housing, buyers can often exact better concessions and/or upgrades during the negotiation process.

And, so long as mortgage rates continue to rise, that pressure on builders should build.

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