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Economy in Brief

U.S. Home Builders’ Index Recovers To Its Highest Since June '08
by Tom Moeller July 16, 2009

According to the National Association of Home Builders, improvement in the housing market continued during July. Their Composite Housing Market Index recovered the June slip and rose to 17, which equaled the highest level since June of last year. The index is compiled from survey questions asking builders to rate market conditions as “good”, “fair”, “poor” or “very high” to “very low”. Numerical results over 50 indicate a predominance of “good” readings.

Also showing improvement during all of the first quarter was the Home Builders' Housing Opportunity Index, which is the share of homes sold that could be considered affordable to a family earning the median income. It jumped to a record high of 72.5% buoyed by lower home prices, lower interest rates and higher income. (There is a break in the series from 2002 to 2003.)

The Home Builders Association indicated that its sub-index of present sales rose this month to the highest level since June '08. At a reading of 17 the figure was up significantly from the January low of 6. Since 1990, the year-to-year change in this index has had an 80% correlation with the year-to-year percentage change in new single-family home sales.

The index of builders’ expectations for home sales in six months held stable but remained near its highest since September. The “traffic" of prospective buyers also improved from June and was up from the record lows of this past Winter.

The strength in the July composite index readings was concentrated in the South. Elsewhere in the country composite indexes were flat-to-lower.

The NAHB has compiled the Housing Market Index since 1985. The weights assigned to the individual index components are .5920 for single family detached sales, present time; .1358 for single family detached sales, next six months; and .2722 for traffic of prospective buyers. The results, along with other housing and remodeling indexes from NAHB Economics, are included in Haver’s SURVEYS database.

Today's House testimony by Fed Governor Elizabeth A. Duke titled Consumer Protection can be found here.

Nat'l Association of Home Builders July June  July '08 2008 2007 2006
Composite Housing Market Index (All Good = 100) 17 15 16 16 27 42
  Single-Family Sales 17 14 15 16 27 45
  Single-Family Sales: Next Six Months 26 26 23 25 37 51
  Traffic of Prospective Buyers 14 13 12 14 21 30
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