NAHB: Builder confidence edges lower on inflation concerns
January 18, 2022 | 9:18 am CST

Inflation fears impacting builder confidence. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Growing inflation concerns and ongoing supply chain disruptions snapped a four-month rise in builder sentiment even as consumer demand remains robust, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released Jan. 18.

Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes moved one point lower to 83 in January, the report said. The HMI has hovered at the 83 or 84 level, the same rate as the spring of 2021, for the past three months.

"Higher material costs and lack of availability are adding weeks to typical single-family construction times," said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke, a custom home builder from Tampa, Fla. "NAHB analysis indicates the aggregate cost of residential construction materials has increased almost 19% since December 2021. Policymakers need to take action to fix supply chains. Obtaining a new softwood lumber agreement with Canada and reducing tariffs is an excellent place to start."

"The HMI data was collected during the first two weeks of January and do not fully reflect the recent jump in mortgage interest rates," said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. "While lean existing home inventory and solid buyer demand are supporting the need for new construction, the combination of ongoing increases for building materials, worsening skilled labor shortages and higher mortgage rates point to declines for housing affordability in 2022."

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 35 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as "good," "fair" or "poor." The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as "high to very high," "average" or "low to very low." Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

The HMI index gauging current sales conditions held steady at 90, the gauge measuring sales expectations in the next six months fell two points to 83, and the component charting traffic of prospective buyers also posted a two-point decline to 69.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast fell one point to 73, the Midwest increased one point to 75 and the South and West each posted a one-point rise to 88, respectively.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Profile picture for user larryadams
About the author
Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).