U.S. Homebuilder Confidence Unexpectedly Deteriorates Amid High Mortgage Rates

Homebuilder confidence in the U.S. has unexpectedly deteriorated in the month of September, according to a report released by the National Association of Home Builders on Monday.

The report said the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index slumped to 45 in September after tumbling to 50 in August. Economists had expected the index to come in unchanged.

The housing market index dropped below the key breakeven measure of 50 for the first time in five months, as persistently high mortgage rates above 7 percent continue to erode builder confidence.

“High mortgage rates are clearly taking a toll on builder confidence and consumer demand, as a growing number of buyers are electing to defer a home purchase until long-term rates move lower,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz.

“Putting into place policies that will allow builders to increase the housing supply is the best remedy to ease the nation’s housing affordability crisis and curb shelter inflation,” he added. “Shelter inflation posted a 7.3% year-over-year gain in August, compared to an overall 3.7% consumer inflation reading.”

The unexpected decrease by the housing market index reflected notable declines by all three of the component indices.

The NAHB said the index gauging current sales conditions fell six points to 51, the index charting sales expectations in the next six months also declined six points to 49 and the index measuring traffic of prospective buyers dropped five points to 30.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department is scheduled to release a separate report on new residential construction in the month of August.

Economists currently expect housing starts to decrease to an annual rate of 1.440 million, while building permits are expected to rise to an annual rate of 1.445 million.

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