Interest Rate Roundup

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

NAHB index rises to 17 in February

The National Association of Home Builders just released its latest figures on builder sentiment. The group's headline index climbed to 17 in February from 15 in January. That was slightly better than expectations.

The subindex measuring present single family sales rose to 17 from 15, while the subindex that tracks expectations about future sales inched up to 27 from 26. The subindex that tracks prospective buyer traffic was unchanged at 12. Regionally, the Northeast index fell to 19 from 20, while the West index dropped to 14 from 15. The Midwest index rose to 13 from 11, while the South index climbed to 19 from 17.

Builders were somewhat more optimistic about present and future sales in February. But buyers aren't exactly beating down their doors. Indeed, traffic through models and sales offices is nowhere near what builders would like to see.

Why aren't industry players more ebullient? Because they're competing against deeply discounted distressed inventory. Tighter lending standards and the anemic job market are two other headwinds. Still, nothing in the latest figures suggests a new major leg down is coming. Rather, the slow anemic recovery I've been predicting for several months continues apace.


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