Homebuilder confidence falls in May

Homebuilder confidence fell slightly in May, but expectations are for the housing sector's recovery to pick up pace. 

Sentiment dropped a point to 45 from a downwardly revised April reading of 46 for newly built single-family homes, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released Thursday.

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"After four months in which the HMI has shown little signs of fluctuation, it is clear that builder sentiment is becoming more in line with the market reality of a continuing but modest recovery," said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a homebuilder and developer from Wilmington, Del.

"However, builders expressed some optimism that sales will pick up in the coming months."

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

"Builders are waiting for consumers to feel more secure about their financial situation," said David Crowe, NAHB's chief economist.

"Once job growth becomes more consistent, consumers will return to the market in larger numbers and that will boost builder confidence."

The index's components were mixed in May.

The index gauging sales expectations in the next six months rose one point to 57, while the index measuring buyer traffic increased two points to 33. The component looking at current sales conditions fell two points to 48.

Regionally, only the South saw an increase in optimism, rising one point to 48. Meanwhile, the Midwest fell a single point, to 47, and the West posted a four-point, drop to 47. The Northeast held steady at 33.