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October 17, 2017 12:00 PM, EDT

Homebuilders Gauge at Five-Month High Shows Storm Recovery

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A rebound in homebuilders’ confidence to a five-month high indicates concern over fallout from major hurricanes has been alleviated, according to data Oct. 17 from the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo.

Highlights of October Homebuilder Sentiment

• Housing Market Index rose to 68 (estimated 64) from an unrevised 64 in Sept.

• Measure of six-month sales outlook rose 5 points to 78, matching highest level since 2005.

• Current sales index increased to 75 from 70.

Key Takeaways

The report suggests the housing market is on track to return to its pre-storm state, marked by steady demand and rising prices that are nevertheless putting purchases out of reach for some first-time buyers. Developers will probably get a boost from recovery efforts in the coming months as rebuilding efforts intensify in Texas and Florida, where many homes were flooded or destroyed. At the same time, the continued strength of the U.S. job market and still-low mortgage rates point to underlying support for residential real estate.

Officials’ Views

“With a tight inventory of existing homes and promising growth in household formation, we can expect the new home market continue to strengthen at a modest rate in the months ahead,” Robert Dietz, chief economist at NAHB, said in a statement.

“Builders need to be mindful of long-term repercussions from the storms, such as intensified material price increases and labor shortages,” NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a homebuilder and developer from Kerrville, Texas, said in a statement.

Other Details

• Gauge of prospective buyer traffic rose to 48 from 47, first increase since March.

• Index of confidence rose in Midwest and South; unchanged in Northeast, fell in West.

• Readings greater than 50 indicate more respondents reported good market conditions.