Steel Markets

Shutdown Shuts Down Housing Report

Written by Sandy Williams

Housing start data is on hiatus as the partial government shutdown continues. The National Association of Home Builders, however, estimates that single-family starts ended 2018 at 876,000 units, a 3 percent gain from the 2017 total of 848,900 in 2017.

Builder confidence increased in January, rising two points to 58 on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), bolstered by a drop in mortgage rates.

“The gradual decline in mortgage rates in recent weeks helped to sustain builder sentiment,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel. “Low unemployment, solid job growth and favorable demographics should support housing demand in the coming months.”

All the components of the HMI posted gains in January: current sales conditions rose two points to 63, the six-month outlook rose three points to 64 and the index for buyer traffic inched up one point to 44.

“Builders need to continue to manage rising construction costs to keep home prices affordable, particularly for young buyers at the entry-level of the market,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Lower interest rates that peaked around 5 percent in mid-November and have since fallen to just below 4.5 percent will help the housing market continue to grow at a modest clip as we enter the new year.”

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