U.S. Homebuilder Confidence Retreats From Highest in 11 Years

Yale's Robert Shiller Sees a Bubble in U.S. Markets

Confidence among U.S. homebuilders retreated in January from an 11-year high, suggesting optimism has plateaued following Donald Trump’s election victory, a report from the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo showed Wednesday.

Key Points

  • Builder sentiment gauge fell to 67 (forecast was 69) from a revised 69 in Dec.; readings below 50 indicate respondents report poor market conditions
  • Gauge of current sales dropped to 72 from 75
  • Index of prospective buyer traffic at 51 after 52
  • Measure of six-month sales outlook fell to 76 from 78

Big Picture

Even with the January decline, the jump in confidence since Trump’s election in November indicates homebuilders expect the president-elect and new Congress to lower regulatory barriers to developing and buying homes. At the same time, rising mortgage rates may temper confidence in the real estate industry and damp sales in the coming months. More broadly, the optimism mirrors that of other sectors and of consumers, who see Republican policies boosting the economy.

Economist Takeaways

“NAHB expects solid 10 percent growth in single-family construction in 2017, adding to the gains of 2016,” Chief Economist Robert Dietz said in a statement. “Concerns going into the year include rising mortgage interest rates as well as a lack of lots and access to labor.”

The Details

  • Builder confidence declined in three of four regions, including biggest drop in West since February 2014
  • Confidence unchanged in Midwest
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