December 5, 2021

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Homebuilder confidence surges past expectations, as buyer demand remains high

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Carpenters work on building new townhomes that are still under construction while building material supplies are in high demand in Tampa, Florida, May 5, 2021.

Octavio Jones | Reuters

Higher prices and longer wait times do not appear to be turning buyers away from the nation’s homebuilders. With demand still surging, homebuilder confidence in the market for single-family homes rose more than expected in November, to the highest level since last May. 

Confidence rose 3 points to 83 on the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). Anything above 50 is considered positive. Analyst expectations had been for it to remain unchanged at 80. Sentiment stood at 90 in November 2020.

“The solid market for home building continued in November despite ongoing supply-side challenges,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke, a homebuilder from Tampa, Florida. “Lack of resale inventory combined with strong consumer demand continues to boost single-family home building.”

Of the index’s three components, current sales conditions rose 3 points to 89. Buyer traffic also increased 3 points to 68. Sales expectations in the next six months were unchanged at 84. 

While buyers are plentiful, most of the components that go into building a home are not. That has led some builders, like the nation’s largest, DR Horton, to slow sales in order to make sure they can deliver on time.

Company Chairman, Donald Horton, noted in the company’s most recent quarterly earnings release, “We continued intentionally restricting our home sales pace by selling homes later in the construction cycle to align with our production levels and better ensure the certainty of home close dates for our homebuyers.” 

Not only are builders still experiencing supply chain disruptions and a massive labor shortage, they also can’t find enough land on which to build.  

“Lot availability is at multi-decade lows and the construction industry currently has more than 330,000 open positions,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz, who called on policymakers to focus on resolving these issues.

Regionally, on a 3-month moving average for HMI scores, sentiment in both the Midwest and South rose 4 points to 72 and 84 respectively. In the West it rose one point to 84 and in the Northeast fell two points to 70.

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