U.S. housebuilder sentiment steady in September
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index was unchanged from August at 67, beating expectations for a dip to 66.
Meanwhile, the index measuring current sales conditions rose one point to 74, while the index of expectations for the next six months was up two points to 74. The gauge for buyer traffic was steady in September at 49.
The NAHB said that despite rising affordability concerns, builders continue to report firm demand for housing, especially as millennials and other newcomers enter the market. The recent decline in lumber prices from record-high levels earlier this summer is also welcome relief, although builders still need to manage construction costs to keep homes competitively priced, it said.
NAHB chief economist Robert Dietz said: "Tariffs aren't helping home builders, who are still dogged by the same headwinds that they've faced since the slow housing recovery began several years ago.
"Housing affordability is becoming a challenge, as builders face overly burdensome regulations and rising material costs exacerbated by an escalating trade skirmish."
In terms of regions, the index for the Northeast was up one point to 54, while the index for the South was unchanged at 70. The gauges for the West and the Midwest were down one and three points to 73 and 59, respectively. ■