Builders face a variety of economic headwinds. New mortgage rules impact lenders and borrowers, and jobs have been growing in fits and starts in recent months. In addition, mortgage rates and home prices have been on the rise, cutting affordability.
Details on the components of the builder index show that a gauge of views on prospective-buyer traffic rose to 33 in March from 31 in February, while a barometer of present sales of single-family home increased to 52 from 51. Meanwhile, a gauge of builders’ sales expectations declined to 53 from 54.
By region, the housing-market index fell five points in the Northeast to 29, and five points in the West to 53. The Midwest saw a gain of three points to 52, while the South’s index rose two points to 48.
On Tuesday the government will report on housing starts for February, and economists expect a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 913,000, after new construction tumbled 16% in January to a rate of 880,000, darkening the economic outlook.