Confidence among home builders weakened in April for the fourth consecutive month, according to survey data released Monday.
The National Association of Home Builders’ monthly confidence index declined by two points to a reading of 77 in April, which is the lowest level since September of 2020.
The index’s decline was caused by a steep drop in the gauge of foot traffic of prospective buyers, which fell to its lowest level since July 2020. The measure of current sales conditions also fell as supply chain disruptions, high materials costs, and sharply higher mortgage rates weighed on home builder sentiment.
“The housing market faces an inflection point as an unexpectedly quick rise in interest rates, rising home prices, and escalating materials costs have significantly decreased housing affordability conditions, particularly in the crucial entry-level market, ” NAHB chief economist Robert Deitz said.
Despite those declines, home builders’ expectations of single-family home sales in the next six months rose in April after a steep decline in March.
“Despite low existing inventory, builders report sales traffic and current sales conditions have declined to their lowest points since last summer as a sharp jump in mortgage rates and persistent supply chain disruptions continue to unsettle the housing market,” said NAHB Chairman Jerry Konter, a builder and developer from Savannah, Ga. “Policymakers must take proactive steps to fix supply chain issues that will reduce the cost of development, stem the rise in home prices and allow builders to increase production.”
The average interest rate for a standard 30-year fixed mortgage is 5.25 percent, up 19 basis points from a week ago.
The housing market is one of the most interest rate sensitive parts of the U.S. economy. The Federal Reserve, in an effort to fight much higher than expected inflation, has begun raising interest rates and announced plans to shrink its balance sheet. This has pushed up bond yields and interest rates on home loans.
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