Home builder index wobbly in March

Home builder confidence struggled to gain traction in March amid severe winter weather and difficulties finding land and labor.

The gauge of optimism rose 1 point to 47, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released on Monday.

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"The March HMI mirrors last month's sentiment, as builders continued to be affected by poor weather and difficulties in finding lots and labor," said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.

Any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

"A number of factors are raising builder concerns over meeting demand for the spring buying season," said David Crowe, the NAHB's chief economist. 

"These include a shortage of buildable lots and skilled workers, rising materials prices and an extremely low inventory of new homes for sale."

Overall, the index's components were mixed in March.

The component gauging current sales conditions increased 1 point to 52 and the index measuring buyer traffic increased 2 points to 33.

The component gauging sales expectations in the next six months fell 1 point to 53.

The three-month moving averages for regional scores all fell in March.

The Northeast dropped 3 points to 35, the Midwest fell 3 points to 53, the South posted a 4-point decline to 49 and the West registered a 2-point drop to 61.