Poor weather puts a damper on builder confidence in February

By |  February 24, 2014

Unusually severe weather conditions across much of the United States, along with continued concerns over the cost and availability of labor and lots, caused builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes to post a 10-point drop to 46 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).

“Significant weather conditions across most of the country led to a decline in buyer traffic last month,” says Kevin Kelly, NAHB chairman and a homebuilder and developer from Wilmington, Del. “Builders also have additional concerns about meeting ongoing and future demand due to a shortage of lots and labor.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 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 of the major HMI components declined in February. The component gauging current sales conditions fell 11 points to 51; the component gauging sales expectations in the next six months declined six points to 54; and the component measuring buyer traffic dropped nine points to 31.

In addition, housing starts fell 16 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 880,000 units in January, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. The decline was due largely to unusually severe weather, NAHB says.

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Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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