Interest Rate Roundup

Monday, August 16, 2010

NAHB index slumps in August to 17-month low

The National Association of Home Builders just released its latest numbers on the housing market. The overall index slumped to 13 from 14, compared with expectations for a slight increase. That's the worst level going all the way back to March 2009.

The subindex that measures current sales slipped to 14 from 15, while the index that measures expectations about the future tanked to 18 from 21. The subindex tracking buyer traffic was unchanged at 10. Regionally speaking, the index declined to 18 from 24 in the Northeast, to 13 from 14 in the South, and to 8 from 9 in the West. The Midwest index held steady at 15.

The double dip in housing continued into August, according to the latest figures from the NAHB. The group's overall housing index fell to its lowest level since March 2009, with builders gloomy about both current sales and market conditions down the road.

What's going on? Well, we have incredibly cheap mortgage rates and cheap home prices. But buyers just aren't stepping up to the plate. This fits with the "no jobs = no home sales" thesis I laid out a few months ago. Unless and until the job market improves, we are simply not going to get any traction in the housing market. And so far, job growth is missing in action.


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