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Builder confidence holds firm in July

Housing market in place for continued slow, steady growth, survey shows

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes in July fell slightly from June, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders.

"For the past six months, builder confidence has remained in a relatively narrow positive range that is consistent with the ongoing gradual housing recovery that is underway," said NAHB Chairman Ed Brady, a home builder and developer from Bloomington, Ill. "However, we are still hearing reports from our members of scattered softness in some markets, due largely to regulatory constraints and shortages of lots and labor."

"The economic fundamentals are in place for continued slow, steady growth in the housing market," said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. "Job creation is solid, mortgage rates are at historic lows and household formations are rising. These factors should help to bring more buyers into the market as the year progresses."

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index 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 HMI components edged lower in July. The components measuring current sales expectations and buyer traffic each fell one point to 63 and 45, respectively. The index measuring sales expectations in the next six months posted a three-point decline to 66.

The three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores held remarkably steady. The Northeast, Midwest and South were unchanged at 39, 57 and 61, respectively. The West edged one point higher to 69.

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