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Economy in Brief

U.S. Home Builders Index Continues To Exhibit Strength
by Tom Moeller  December 18, 2012

Recent improvement in the housing market won't let up. The Composite Housing Market Index from the National Association of Home Builders-Wells Fargo increased this month to 47 from a downwardly revised 45 in November. For all of 2012, the index level more-than-doubled. The latest figure was the highest since April 2006. The index of single-family home sales gained to 51, also the highest since 2006. The index of sales during the next six months slipped to a still-strong 51. Finally, the home builders' index of traffic ticked up to 36, its highest since April 2006. For the year, the traffic index roughly doubled.

By region, the index for the Northeast was the strongest and jumped to 42, triple the year-ago level. That was followed by the Midwest with a rise to 53, its highest since April of 2005. Elsewhere, the index for the South fell slightly to a still-high 47 and the index for West fell to 45. Each of these NAHB figures is seasonally adjusted.

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, rose slightly in Q3'12 to 74.1% but remained down from the series' high. (There is a break in the series from 2002 to 2003.)

The Home Builders index is compiled from survey questions asking builders to rate market conditions as "good," "fair," "poor" or "very high" to "very low." The figure is thus a diffusion index with numerical results over 50 indicating a predominance of "good" readings.

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. The expectation figure is available in Haver's MMSAMER database. 


National Association of Home Builders Dec Nov Oct Dec'11 2012 2011 2010
Composite Housing Market Index, SA (All Good=100) 47 45 41 21 34 16 16
 Single-Family Sales 51 49 41 22 36 16 16
 Single-Family Sales: Next Six Months 51 52 51 26 41 22 23
 Traffic of Prospective Buyers 36 35 35 18 27 13 12
Northeast 42 30 32 14 29 17 20
Midwest 53 51 40 23 36 14 14
South 47 49 42 25 34 18 17
West 45 48 48 16 38 15 13
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