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U.S. homebuilder confidence edges up in September, survey shows By Reuters


(Reuters) – Confidence among U.S. single-family homebuilders edged up in September, reversing a three-month decline as elevated costs for some building materials including softwood lumber eased, a survey showed on Monday.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index jumped one point last month to 76. If the reading is above 50, it means that builders are more optimistic about conditions than they were last month.

As the COVID-19 epidemic fueled a boom in housing, builders felt more optimistic than ever. More people were forced to work remotely. Since then, the outlook has changed for builders. Many people cite chronic labor shortages as well spiraling construction cost due to disruptions in supply chains at sawmills and ports which saw skyrocketing lumber prices and other raw material prices. Building costs have been impacted by steel import tariffs.

Chuck Fowke (NAHB Chairman) stated that the September data shows stability, with some building material cost problems decreasing for softwood lumber. The delivery times for construction workers are expected to continue, even though they have been extended.

The NAHB reports that while lumber is at its lowest point since May, it has fallen more than 60%. However, aggregate residential construction materials costs rose 13% annually in the first 8 months of the year according to the NAHB. With the current surge in home-price growth, builders believe housing affordability will be a major problem for the next months.

It also showed an increase in the survey’s measurement of current sales conditions to 82. However, its gauge of future sales prospects for the next six-months remained stable at 81. Component that measures traffic from potential buyers rose by 2 points, to 61.

Robert Dietz of the NAHB, chief economist said that “the single-family construction market has moved away from the unsustainablely hot pace of building last fall and has attained a still hot yet more stable level”

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