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Economy in Brief

U.S. Home Builder Index Continues to Weaken in April
by Tom Moeller  April 18, 2022

• Decline is to lowest level since September 2021.

• Current sales & traffic decline.

• Regional readings remain mixed.

The Composite Housing Market Index from the National Association of Home Builders-Wells Fargo fell 2.5% (-7.2% y/y) to 77 in April from an unrevised 79 in March. It was the fourth straight monthly decline, pushing the index 14.4% below its peak in November 2020. The decline matched expectations in the INFORMA Global Markets survey.

The current sales reading fell 2.3% (-3.4% y/y) to 85 and stood at its lowest level since September 2021. Moving upward by 4.3% (-8.8% y/y) to 73 was the index of expected sales in the next six months. The index peaked at 89 in November 2020. The index measuring traffic of prospective buyers fell 9.1% (-18.9% y/y) to 60. The index stood at the lowest level since last August and was 22.1% lower than the November 2020 peak.

Regional activity varied in April. The index for the Midwest fell 17.6% (-18.7% y/y) to 61, its lowest level since June 2020. The index for the West declined 7.7%, both m/m and y/y, to 84. Moving 13.8% higher (-11.9% y/y) to 74 was the index for the Northeast. In the South, the home builder index rose 1.2% (-2.4% y/y) to 82. These regional series begin in 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. The Informa Global Markets survey is in Haver's MMSAMER database.

National Association of Home Builders Apr Mar Feb Apr '21 2021 2020 2019
Composite Housing Market Index, SA (All Good=100) 77 79 81 83 81 70 66
 Single-Family Sales: Present 85 87 89 88 87 76 72
 Single-Family Sales: Next Six Months 73 70 80 80 82 74 72
 Traffic of Prospective Buyers 60 66 65 74 68 56 49
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