While real estate agents and home sellers are feeling optimistic about the upcoming home buying season, builder sentiment remains cautious as many consumers are still waiting until they feel more financially prepared to purchase a home.
The National Association of HomeBuilders/Wells Fargo’s index of builder confidence declined 1 point to 45 in May, compared to a downwardly revised April reading of 46. That is the lowest reading in one year. In fact, the index has now declined or held steady since last December. “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 Chair Kevin Kelly in a press release.
The results were worse than expected. On average, economists expected the index to reach 49 this month. Any reading below 50 indicates that builders in general hold a negative view on sales conditions. In the five years before the Great Recession, the index averaged 54, and hit an all time low of 8 in early 2009. The index has now been below 50 for four consecutive months.