Would-Be Homebuyers Appear To Be More Confident

Is the U.S. housing sector about to make a comeback? Home builders apparently think so. Every month, the National Association of Home Builders publishes its housing market index. The July report shot up to its highest level in five years. It is, however, still well below historical averages.

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And the nation's homebuilders are feeling more optimistic than they have since March, 2007, just before the beginning of the Great Recession. What's more, the National Association of Home Builders' Housing Market Index has posted its largest one-month gain in roughly a decade.

NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: David Crowe, the chief economist at the Home Builders Association says things are definitely looking up. It's a trend that began last September.

DR. DAVID CROWE: I think the thing that came through this month in particular was that the buyers they're getting now are much more serious. They've gotten a lot tire kickers up till this point; now they seem to be getting people that really are serious about completing the sale.

KAUFMAN: Would-be buyers, he says are more confident now that the market has hit bottom - and that if they purchase now, they wont lose money.

The housing market index is based on a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders. It measures builder perception of current single-family home sales and expectations for the next six months. It also asks builders to rate prospective buyers.

DAVE MAIN: I am on a job site right now.

KAUFMAN: Builder Dave Main is completing a small project of five homes on Seattle's Eastside - four of them have already sold. The longtime builder says there's a lot of pent-up demand.

MAIN: We are seeing people being able to borrow money from banks, interest rates are low and prices are still reasonable.

KAUFMAN: But Main says he is now turning a profit on those homes.

The uptick in confidence is not across the board. In some markets, say San Diego and Toledo, builders are still struggling. And the housing market index, while up sharply this month, is still well below historical averages.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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