The National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index for November showed builders’ growing concerns over U.S. housing market conditions. November’s index reading dropped five points to 33 as compared to October’s reading of 38 and the November 2021 reading of 83. November’s home builder index reading was the lowest reading since June 2012 except during the pandemic. Readings over 50 indicate that most home builders were positive about housing market conditions.
All three index readings that contribute to the HMI reading were also lower. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell six points to an index reading of 39. Home builder sentiment over housing markets in the next six months fell four points to an index reading of 31. Home builder expectations for prospective buyer traffic in new housing developments fell five points to November’s reading of 20.
Home Builders Face Multiple Challenges
Home builders continued to face obstacles including rising materials costs and falling demand for homes. Rising mortgage rates and home prices sidelined potential buyers. The Federal Reserve’s decision to raise its target interest rate range to slow inflation caused mortgage rates to rise; home builders asked lawmakers to lower costs related to land development and home construction to offset the impact of rising mortgage rates.
NAHB chairman Jerry Konter said: “Higher interest rates have significantly weakened demand for new homes as buyer traffic is becoming increasingly scarce. With the housing sector in a recession, the administration and new Congress must turn their focus to policies that lower the cost of building and allow the nation’s home builders to expand housing production.”
Builders reported offering buyer incentives including mortgage rate buydowns, paying discount points for buyers, and reducing home prices. 37 percent of home builders cut prices in November as compared to 26 percent in September. Price reductions averaged 6 percent. Current home price reductions were lower than reductions of 10 to 12 percent seen during the Great Recession in 2008.
NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said, “To ease the worsening housing affordability crisis, policymakers must seek solutions that create more affordable and attainable housing.” Regional readings for home builder confidence were also lower. Builder sentiment in the Midwest fell 2 points to 38; Builder sentiment in the Northeast fell 6 points to 41, and builder sentiment in the South fell 7 points to 42. Home builder sentiment in the West fell 5 points to an index reading of 29.