The National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo, which publish the monthly report, revealed sentiment increased by 5 points to 75, marking the highest reading since June of 1999.
“Builders are continuing to see the housing rebound that began in the spring, supported by a low supply of existing homes, low mortgage rates, and a strong labor market,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde.
In December, the index measuring current sales conditions rose to 84 points, while buyer traffic grew to 58 points and sales expectations over the next six months inched forward to 79 points.
The three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores show the South grew to 76 points, the West increased to 84 points and the Midwest climbed to 63 points. However, the report indicates the Northeast declined to 61 points.
Although sentiment improved in a majority of the nation’s regions, NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz warns homebuilders across the country continue to grapple with affordability concerns.
“While we are seeing near-term positive market conditions with a 50-year low for the unemployment rate and increased wage growth, we are still underbuilding due to supply-side constraints like labor and land availability,” Dietz said. “Higher development costs are hurting affordability and dampening more robust construction growth.”
NOTE: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder opinions of single-family home sales and expectations, asking for a rating of good, fair or poor. Builders are also asked to rate prospective buyer traffic from very low to very high. The scores are used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index with a rating of 50 or over indicating positive sentiment.