Homebuilder confidence remains flat in December
Homebuilder confidence in the housing market remained flat in December as builders brace themselves for a slow holiday season. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo (WFC) Housing Market Index remained unchanged at 16 after increasing slightly in November. The index measures builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and expectations for the next six months. Any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good. Bob Jones, chairman of NAHB, said that while the HMI is adjusted for seasonal factors, such as the typical slowdown due to cold-weather, sales activity is breached by ongoing weakness in the job market and the rising number of foreclosures. "The steady but low level of the HMI reflects the fact that builders and consumers have yet to see consistent signs that the economy is improving," added NAHB chief economist David Crowe. "The good news is that the index and its subcomponents remain above recent lows from the early fall." Two out of the three sectors of the HMI remained unchanged from November. The current sales condition index stayed at 16 and the six-month sales expectation index stayed at 25. The index measuring how builders view the traffic of prospective buyers fell one point to 11. Regionally, HMIs vary. Homebuilders were the most confident in the Northeast at an index of 24, followed by the South (17), the Midwest (13) and the West (11). Write to Christine Ricciardi.