NAHB Housing Market Index: Builder Confidence Weakened by High Mortgage Rates
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index (HMI) is a gauge of builder opinion on the relative level of current and future single-family home sales. The data is collected from a monthly survey of about 900 home builders asking respondents to, "rate market conditions for the sale of new homes at the present time and in the next six months as well as the traffic of prospective buyers of new homes." It is a diffusion index, which means that a reading above 50 indicates a favorable outlook on home sales; below 50 indicates a negative outlook.
The latest reading fell 5 points from last month to 45, the index's second consecutive monthly decline and its lowest level since April. Builder confidence continued to weaken in September largely as a result from rising mortgage rates moving above 7%.
Here's an excerpt from the press release:
“The two-month decline in builder sentiment coincides with when mortgage rates jumped above 7% and significantly eroded buyer purchasing power,” said NAHB Chairman Alicia Huey, a custom home builder and developer from Birmingham, Ala. “And on the supply-side front, builders continue to grapple with shortages of construction workers, buildable lots and distribution transformers, which is further adding to housing affordability woes. Insurance cost and availability is also a growing concern for the housing sector.”
“High mortgage rates are clearly taking a toll on builder confidence and consumer demand, as a growing number of buyers are electing to defer a home purchase until long-term rates move lower,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Putting into place policies that will allow builders to increase the housing supply is the best remedy to ease the nation’s housing affordability crisis and curb shelter inflation. Shelter inflation posted a 7.3% year-over-year gain in August, compared to an overall 3.7% consumer inflation reading.”
Here is the historical series, which dates from 1985.
Components of the the NAHB Housing Market Index
The NAHB Housing Market Index is calculated based off of three components: current sales, expected sales in the next 6 months, and traffic of prospective buyers. In September, all three posted declines for the second straight month with the current sales component dropping to 51, the expected sales component falling to 49, and the traffic component decreasing to 30.
Housing Market Index: Regional Breakdown
The chart below gives a regional breakdown of the NAHB HMI in four regions of the country: Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. In September, all four regions worsened.