By Xavier Fontdegloria
Home-builder confidence in the U.S. improved in July for the third straight month and recovered to pre-pandemic levels, according to a measure from the National Association of Homebuilders. Here are the report main takeaways:
--The association's housing market index, which gauges the single-family housing market, climbed to 72 in July, up 14 points from June's level of 58. A number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.
--The reading beat economists' forecasts from a Dow Jones Newswires poll, which estimated the index at 62 for July.
--July marks the third consecutive improvement of the index after two months in negative territory. The indicator, which registered the biggest on-month drop ever in April, took three months to rebound to March's pre-pandemic level of 72.
--"Builders are seeing strong traffic and lots of interest in new construction as existing home inventory remains lean," NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke said in prepared remarks.
--Despite the clear rebound, NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said the market still faces challenges related to increasing costs and skilled labor availability. "New home demand is improving in lower density markets, including small metro areas, rural markets and large metro exurbs, as people seek out larger homes and anticipate more flexibility for telework in the years ahead," Mr. Dietz said.
--The index gauging current sales conditions increased to 79, the component measuring sales expectations in the next six months climbed to 75 and the measure charting traffic of prospective buyers rose to 58.
--By region, the Northeast registered the largest on-month increase to 70, up 22 points compared with June. The Midwest jumped 18 points to 68, the South increased 10 points to 73 and the West rose 14 points to 80.
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