Confidence Among Homebuilders Held Steady in May

Mark Elias/Bloomberg News

Confidence among U.S. homebuilders held steady in May, signaling limited progress in residential real estate during the busy spring selling season, National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo data showed May 16.

Key Points

• Builder sentiment gauge unchanged at 58, where it’s been for four straight months. Readings greater than 50 indicate more respondents reported good market conditions.

• Median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists projected 59.

• Gauge of prospective buyer traffic held at 44 in May, while index of current sales was also steady at 63.

• Measure of the six-month sales outlook rose to 65, highest this year, from 62.

Big Picture

The figures suggest homebuilding won’t add much more to U.S. growth in coming months even with mortgage rates at the lowest levels in three years. Economists had been looking for gains in residential construction to give the economy a much-needed leg up as manufacturing was weighed down by weak growth abroad and the still relatively strong dollar. Housing, which was at the center of the last recession, wasn’t able to fulfill its role as a spark to the early phase of the expansion.

Economist Takeaways

“The fact that future sales expectations rose slightly this month shows that builders are confident that the market will continue to strengthen,” NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said in a statement. “Job creation, low mortgage interest rates and pent-up demand will also spur growth in the single-family housing sector.”

The Details

• Sentiment among builders in Northeast dropped to lowest level since June 2014.

• Confidence climbed in South and Midwest and was unchanged in West.