Home builder confidence surges

With mortgage rates at their lowest levels in nearly half a century, luring consumers to buy a first home or trade up from an older one, home-builder confidence surged strongly in June to pre-war levels, the national Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported.

The NAHB Housing Market Index, a monthly measure of builder confidence, jumped up by almost nine percent, to a reading of 62 in June from a revised May level of 57.

"Builders are now as confident in the new home market as they were prior to the buildup to the conflict with Iraq and before poor weather conditions weighed on the market in March," said Ken Conine, NAHB president. "In fact, builder expectations for future home sales are now even more buoyant than early in the year."

David Seiders, NAHB chief economist, commented, "There is no question that today's interest-rate picture is the best it has been in many decades, and house values have continued to move up at a solid pace. These factors have stimulated both home buying and mortgage refinancing by America's home owners, providing double-barreled support to the nation's economy. In many markets, the biggest concern builders have is that buyer demand is outstripping he supply of lots available for development."

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