By Xavier Fontdegloria
U.S. homebuilder confidence fell in February for the second straight month as production bottlenecks continued to drive up construction costs and delay projects, according to data from the National Association of Home Builders released Wednesday. Here are the main findings of the report:
— The association’s Housing Market Index, which assesses the single-family housing market, fell to 82 in February from 83 the previous month. A number above 50 indicates that more builders rate the conditions as good than bad.
–The slight decline is in line with forecasts by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.
— “Delivery delays increase construction costs and keep potential buyers out of the market,” said NAHB President Jerry Konter.
— “Residential construction costs are up 21% year-over-year, and these higher development costs have hit first-time buyers particularly hard,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz . Higher interest rates this year will further reduce housing affordability even if demand remains strong, he said.
–The index measuring current selling conditions rose one point to 90; the component measuring traffic from potential buyers fell four points to 65; and the measure of expected sales over the next six months fell two points, to 80.
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