U.S. homebuilder sentiment climbed in February but held tightly near all-time lows, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The HMI rose a single point to 9 - virtually unchanged from an all-time record low in the previous month - indicating that home builders have seen essentially no improvement in the market for new, single-family homes.
"Home builders are especially concerned about the continually rising number of foreclosures and short sales, which are flooding the market with excess inventory and undermining overall home values," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "This is one reason that home builder expectations for the next six months declined in the February HMI even though traffic of prospective buyers has improved somewhat and present sales conditions were basically unchanged. We are therefore looking forward to working with the Treasury Department as details of its plan to address the urgent foreclosure problem emerge."
Two out of three of the HMI's component indexes gained a bit of ground in February, with the index gauging current sales conditions rising a single point to 7 and the index gauging traffic of prospective buyers rising three points to 11. Meanwhile, the index gauging sales expectations in the next six months fell two points to a new record low of 15.
Regionally, the HMI rose a single point in both the South and West, to 12, and 5, respectively, in February. The Midwest posted a two-point gain, to 8, and the Northeast registered a one-point decline, to 9.
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