Homebuilder Confidence Slips Slightly on Labor Concerns

Originally published by: USA TodayMarch 16, 2015

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U.S. homebuilders are feeling less confident in the single-family housing market as the peak spring buying season nears.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo home builders index for March dropped two points to 53, the NAHB said Monday. It was the third straight monthly decline. The index is seasonally adjusted.

Index readings above 50 indicate more builders view market conditions as good rather than poor.

"Even with this slight slip, the (index) remains in positive territory and we expect the market to improve as we enter the spring buying season," said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo.

NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said factors contributing to March's decline included supply chain issues, such as lot and labor shortages, and tight underwriting standards. Two of the index's three components fell in the latest survey. The gauge on current sales conditions was down three points and builders' opinion about buyer traffic fell two points. The component that measures sales expectations for the next six months held steady.

The overall index has hovered in the 50s since July and last topped 60 in 2005, near the end of the home-building boom that preceded a disastrous collapse and the recession. The index was at 59 in September.

The NAHB forecasts a slightly improved market this year. Last year, builders broke ground on just over 1 million housing units, including 647,000 new single-family homes. Both numbers were post-recession highs.

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