Real Estate

Homebuilder sentiment bounces back despite ongoing supply chain problems

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Residential single family homes construction by KB Home are shown under construction in the community of Valley Center, California, June 3, 2021.
Mike Blake | Reuters

The nation’s homebuilders aren’t seeing any relief from supply chain issues that have slowed construction recently, but high buyer demand appears to be making up for it.

Builder confidence in the single-family home construction market rose 4 points to 80 in October on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. That is still down from 85 in October 2020 and from the record high 90 in November of last year. Anything above 50 is considered positive.

“Although demand and home sales remain strong, builders continue to grapple with ongoing supply chain disruptions and labor shortages that are delaying completion times and putting upward pressure on building material and home prices,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke, a homebuilder from Tampa, Florida, in a release.

Of the index’s three components, current sales conditions rose 5 points to 87. Sales expectations in the next six months increased 3 points to 84 and buyer traffic climbed 4 points to 65.

The biggest concern for builders now is affordability, as they raise prices to meet the rising costs of land, labor and materials.

The median price of a newly built home sold in August was 20% higher than August of 2020, according to the U.S. Census. While some of that is the mix of homes selling — more on the high end of the market — it also reflects builder increases.

Some builders have actually slowed home sales due to construction hurdles, as they are concerned they won’t be able to deliver houses at a normal pace.

Homebuyers are turning more and more to new construction, as the supply of existing homes for sale continues to be both incredibly lean and pricey.

“Building material price increases and bottlenecks persist and interest rates are expected to rise in coming months as the Fed begins to taper its purchase of U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed debt,” said Robert Dietz, chief economist at the NAHB.

A forecast just released by the Mortgage Bankers Association predicts the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage will hit 4% by the end of 2022, up from around 3% now.

Regionally, looking at the three-month moving averages builder sentiment in the Midwest rose 1 point to 69. In the Northeast it was unchanged at 72. Both the South and West were also unchanged at 80 and 83, respectively.

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