Home building continues to pick up

Builders have grown more confident since last fall, in part because more people have expressed interest in buying a home. In May, builder optimism rose to the highest level in five years, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index. Homebuilders reported improving sales and higher traffic from prospective buyers, the survey showed. A gauge measuring confidence in sales over the next six months also rose to 34 from 31.

Mortgage rates have fallen to record lows, making home-buying more affordable. Still, many would-be buyers are having difficulty qualifying for home loans or can’t afford larger down payments required by banks.

Builders in many markets are reporting that buyer traffic and sales have picked back up after a pause this April,” said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. “It seems we have resumed the gradual upward trend in confidence that started at the beginning of this year, as stabilizing prices and excellent affordability encourage more people to pursue a new-home purchase.”

“While home building still has quite a way to go toward a fully healthy market, the fact that the HMI has returned to trend is an excellent sign that firming home values, improving employment and low mortgage rates are drawing consumers back,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “The pace of this emerging recovery could be stronger were it not for the significant impediments that the market continues to face with regard to builder and consumer access to credit, inaccurate appraisals, and more recently, rising materials prices.”

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