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Homebuilders less confident they can sell to 55-plus crowd

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Homebuilders are feeling less confident about their ability to build homes for Americans who are at least 55 years old, the National Association of Home Builders said Monday. The association measures builder confidence in this market using its 55-plus housing market index. The most recent index shows confidence levels falling three points from a year ago to a score of 12 on the index. A score of 50 or above is positive, while an index score under 50 indicates that builder confidence in selling to the 55-plus crowd is low. "The current state of the economy continues to affect buyers in the 55-plus housing market," said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen. "The market remains weak given the many uncertainties people face in this economy. While potential buyers exist, they are hesitant to commit to buying a new home as they are concerned about selling their existing home at a fair price, due to low appraisals, an abundance of foreclosures and tighter mortgage lending criteria." When looking at the 55-plus multifamily condo home price index, that measure of condo sales in the senior age bracket also is weak with an index level of 10 and present sales dropping one point to an index score of 9. Meanwhile, the rental market is experiencing a surge in demand for Americans in the 55-plus age range. The multifamily rental index for the age group saw demand jump 12 points to an index score of 40. Meanwhile, the index measuring future demand in the segment increased 10 points to 42. "Multifamily rental units continue to be the bright spot in the 55-plus housing market," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "However, with demand currently running ahead of production, as it has been for several quarters now, the risk of a shortage of rental units in select markets in the future looms larger as builders continue to have trouble obtaining credit to finance new construction." Write to Kerri Panchuk.

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