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Economy in Brief

U.S. Single Family Home Builder Sentiment Notches Another Record
by Gerald D. Cohen  November 17, 2020

• Diffusion index rises to record high 90 in November.

• All three subcomponents -- present and forward-looking sales as well as foot traffic -- all increase to records.

• Three out of four regions improve, only exception Northeast.

The Composite Housing Market Index from the National Association of Home Builders-Wells Fargo increased to a record 90 during November from the previous high of 85 in October (data goes back to 1985). The INFORMA Global Markets survey anticipated an unchanged reading. Sentiment hit an eight-year low of 30 in April; though was meaningfully above 2007 through 2011 levels.

The index of present sales conditions increased 96 in November. The index of expected conditions in the next six months edged up to 89, while traffic of prospective buyers improved to 77. All of these are records. Three out of the four regions rose to record highs led by the West at 98, the South at 90 and the Midwest at 85. Sentiment for the Northeast declined to 82 from October's record 87. These regional readings date back only to December 2004.

The NAHB has compiled the Housing Market Index since 1985. It reflects survey questions which ask builders to rate sales and sales expectations as "good," "fair" or "poor" and traffic as "very high," "average" or "very low." The figures are diffusion indexes with values over 50 indicating a predominance of "good"/"very high" readings. In constructing the composite index, the weights assigned to the individual index components are: 0.5920 for single-family detached sales, present time, 0.1358 for single-family detached sales, next six months, and 0.2722 for traffic of prospective buyers. These data are included in Haver's SURVEYS database.

National Association of Home Builders Nov Oct Sep Nov'19 2019 2018 2017
Composite Housing Market Index, SA (All Good=100) 90 85 83 71 66 67 68
 Single-Family Sales: Present 96 90 88 77 72 73 74
 Single-Family Sales: Next Six Months 89 88 85 78 72 74 76
 Traffic of Prospective Buyers 77 74 74 54 49 50 50
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