The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released its Housing Market Index (HMI) Tuesday, which showed sharp, 5-point increase to 46 for November 2012, marking the seventh consecutive monthly gain for the HMI, and lifting the index to its highest point since May 2006.
Readings under 50 indicate unfavorable housing conditions for builders. Readings over 50 signal “good” conditions.
The Housing Market Index is a measure of builder confidence, published monthly, based on a survey sent to NAHB members which asks them to rate housing market conditions.
In November, home builders reported gains in two of the three areas surveyed:
- Current Single-Family Sales: 49 (+8 from October 2012)
- Projected Single-Family Sales: 53 (+2 from October 2012)
- Buyer Foot Traffic: 35 (unchanged from October 2012)
Builders report growing demand for new homes as inventories for alternative properties — distressed and foreclosed homes, for example — shrink nationwide.
Even Hurricane Sandy did little to suppress builder confidence.
The NAHB survey was conducted in the two weeks immediately following Hurricane Sandy so the Housing Market Index does reflect builder sentiment during that period. All regions of the country posted confidence gains in November.
The South Region showed a 4-point gain to 43; the West Region showed a 3-point gain to 47; the Midwest Region showed a 3-point gain to 45; and the Northeast Region showed a 2-point gain to 31.
Despite the gains, builders nationwide still report challenges with home appraisals and tight credit conditions. In addition, a shortage of buildable lots in some areas is limiting the ability for home builders to put more single-family homes on the market.
As builder confidence grows, today’s buyers should prepare for the possibility of higher home prices. Confident sellers are less likely to make price concessions or to offer free upgrades.
If you are in the market for a new home, therefore, the time between now and the New Year may be the best opportunity to make a bid on a home. Starting next year, low prices may be gone.