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Home Builder Confidence Falls Again; Home Buyers Gain Leverage?

NAHB Housing Market Index August 2008-2010Home builder confidence in the newly-built, single-family housing market is down for the third straight month this month.

After reaching a 3-year high just 90 days ago, the National Association of Homebuilders’ Housing Market Index is now at a multi-year low. It’s since dropped by almost half.

As an economic indicator, the HMI’s goal is to “take the pulse of the single-family housing market”. It surveys home builders across the country and asks them to report on 3 facets of their business:

  1. How are market conditions today?
  2. How do market conditions look 6 months from now?
  3. How is the prospective traffic of new buyers for new homes?

Responses are then collated, weighted, and presented as the Housing Market Index.

The August HMI reading of 13 is the lowest since March 2009.

Not surprisingly, the main reasons why HMI is down echo the main reasons why consumer confidence is down. Jobs growth continues to be weak; credit guidelines remain restrictive; and, home values are recovering slowly, pressured by distressed properties.

Builders report watching foot traffic stagnate and most likely won’t want to be stuck with excess inventory into the fall and winter months.  For home buyers in San Antonio , drops in builder confidence like this can be an excellent negotiation tool.

Builders may be more likely to offer incentives and/or price reductions into an uncertain economy, as compared to a strong one. Furthermore, weakness in home building indirectly drags mortgage rates lower.

This one-two combination can make for cheaper homes with cheaper monthly payments.