Home builder confidence in the newly-built, single-family housing market remains high.
In March, for the second consecutive month, the National Association of Homebuilders reports the Housing Market Index at 28 — a doubling of the reading from just 6 months ago and, along with last month, the highest HMI value since June 2007.
When home builder confidence reads 50 or better, it reflects favorable builder conditions in the single-family, new home market. Readings below 50 suggest unfavorable builder conditions.
The HMI itself is a composite reading. It’s the result of three separate surveys sent to home builders by the trade association. The NAHB asks builders to report on their current single-family home sales volume; their projected single-family home sales volume for the next 6 months; and, their current buyer “foot traffic”.
Approximately 400 surveys are returned each month. The results are compiled into the NAHB Housing Market Index.
In March, home builders provided mixed replies to the survey questions :
- Current Single-Family Sales : 29 (-1 from February)
- Projected Single-Family Sales : 36 (+2 from February)
- Buyer Foot Traffic : 22 (Unchanged from February)
It’s noteworthy, despite slowing sales in March, that home builders expect a surge in new home sales over the next 6 months. The reasons for this are several and should be of interest to today’s home buyers.
First, the jobs market is heating up. The U.S. economy has added more than 1 net new million jobs over the last 6 months and that is increasing the pool of potential home buyers in Illinois and nationwide.
Second, the housing market, in general, is improving. Home sales are brisk in many U.S. markets and home supplies are dropping. This creates pressure on home prices to rise.
And, third, low mortgage rates have helped pushed home affordability to all-time highs. More home buyers earning the national median income can afford a median-priced home than at any time in history.
It’s all culminated in a monthly Buyer Foot Traffic reading which, at 22, is nearly triple the foot traffic reading from just three years ago. Home buyers — in Chicago and everywhere else — are out in full-force, capitalizing on today’s buyer-friendly market.
If you’re looking to buy new construction in the second half of 2012, consider moving up your time frame. Market conditions are constantly changing, and may move out of your favor. As builder optimism increases, the price you pay for your new home may increase, too.