Builders are ending the year on a high, sounding an optimistic note both for construction on new homes next year and increased hiring of construction workers.
Confidence for new, single-family home construction in December reached its highest point since August, according to the National Association of Home Builders index. "This is definitely an encouraging sign as we move into 2014," Rick Judson, chairman of the NAHB, said in a statement.
Feeling better all over
The index improved four points to 58 this month. All three components of the index -- current sales conditions, sales expectations over the next six months and prospective buyer traffic -- gained in December.
A number above 50 on the index signals a positive outlook. This month's number is 11 points higher than it was in December 2012 and has been above 50 for the past seven months. The only part of the index remaining below 50 is buyer traffic, which gained three points in December to reach 44. Sales expectations over the next six months increased by two points to 62, and current sales conditions rose by six points to 64.
Strong showing in the South
Regionally, the South was the only area to have an increase, by one point to 57. The Northeast, Midwest and West each fell by one point. At 59 points each, the West and Midwest both scored the highest in builder confidence, with the Northeast coming in at 38.
More buyers in 2014
The NAHB's chief economist, David Crowe, said he expects the housing market to continue its gradual improvement next year, with pent-up demand from buyers fueling increases. "The recent spike in mortgage interest rates has not deterred consumers, as rates are still near historically low levels," he said.
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