Home builder confidence ticked up in April


Home builder confidence started to break out of the winter doldrums in April, ticking up a point. 

Sentiment in the market for newly built, single-family homes rose to 47 in April from a downwardly revised reading of 46 in March, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released on Tuesday.

"Builder confidence has been in a holding pattern the past three months," said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.  

"Looking ahead, as the spring home buying season gets into full swing and demand increases, builders are expecting sales prospects to improve in the months ahead."

The overall economy went into a deep freeze during several months of severe winter weather but job growth managed to push through the prolonged cold spell, a signal that the economy's growth could pick up pace in the spring. 

"Job growth is proceeding at a solid pace, mortgage interest rates remain historically low and home prices are affordable," said David Crowe, NAHB's chief economist.

"While these factors point to a gradual improvement in housing demand, headwinds that are holding up a more robust recovery include ongoing tight credit conditions for home buyers and the fact that builders in many markets are facing a limited availability of lots and labor."

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

The index gauging current sales conditions in April held steady at 51 while the component measuring the traffic of prospective buyers was 32, which also was unchanged.

On the cusp of the spring buying seasin, expectations for future sales rose four points to 57.

The index's three-month moving average was down in all four regions.

The West fell nine points to 51 and the Midwest posted a four-point decline to 49. Meanwhile, the Northeast and South each dropped two points to 33 and 47, respectively.