U.S. Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes edged down in June, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The index slipped to 18 this month, returning to the record low that was posted in December of 2007 (the series began in January of 1985).
"Clearly, conditions in the housing market remain very weak, and our builder members are not seeing any signs of improvement," noted NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders. "Indeed, the continuing erosion of employment and consumer confidence/sentiment, coupled with surging energy costs, falling house prices and rising home mortgage foreclosures, pose considerable downside risks to the economy and our housing forecast. A targeted stimulus such as a temporary home-buyer tax credit would help turn this situation around and restore housing as an engine of economic growth."
Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for more than 20 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI 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 either "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 sales conditions as good than poor.
The HMI's component indexes gauging current sales conditions and sales expectations for the next 6 months each remained unchanged in June, at 17 and 28, respectively. Meanwhile, the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers fell a single point to 17.