Home-builder confidence in homebuyers and renters 55 years or older reached its highest level in three years during the first quarter, according to a survey from the National Association of Home Builders.

Graded on a scale of 0 to 100, the index increased 10 points in the first three months of the year to a score of 27. It's the highest level measured since the NAHB began the survey in 2008.

"Like the overall single-family housing market, the 55+ housing segment is facing a slow but steady recovery," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "Consumers are starting to see the resale market show some improvement, which allows them to start thinking about moving into 55-plus housing."

The latest outlook for this older market now sits above confidence for the overall housing sector.

Multifamily rentals drove this increased optimism. Homebuilders surveyed increased confidence in present production in these properties by 11 points and raised expectations of future building by eight points.

"We are servicing the largest growing group of buyers that we have ever seen in this age category, and it is a population that is dramatically different from what it was only a few years ago," said NAHB 50-plus Housing Council Chairman W. Don Whyte. "This creates an opportunity for builders and developers in this market to create communities that address the specific needs of the 55-plus consumer."