More confident builders remain cautious

The nation’s homebuilders appear to be more confident about the future of residential construction than they have been in five years of real estate downturn.

January’s index measuring builder confidence reached 25, a place it hasn’t been since June 2007.  It was the fourth month of increases in the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index.

Officials of the National Association of Home Builders suggest that we not break out the bottles of bubbly yet. “Caution remains the word of the day,” said association chief economist David Crowe, as many of the longstanding problems, including tight credit for buyers and construction, remain unresolved.

That said, mortgage applications were 23.1 percent higher last week than the previous one (adjustments were made for the New Year’s holiday), the Mortgage Bankers Association said today. Refinancings, spurred by falling fixed rates, rose 26.4 percent to its highest level in the last six months.

For the second consecutive December, the index used to measure billings for architectural services showed an “overall increase in demand for design services,” the American Institute of Architects reported.

Again, AIA chief economist Kermit Baker urges caution: "We saw nearly identical conditions in November and December of 2010, only to see momentum sputter and billings fall into negative territory as we moved through 2011, so it's too early to be sure that we are in a full recovery mode.”

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Load comments
Continue Reading