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Builders shift focus to rental units

Washington – The nation's home builders are betting consumers are more likely to rent than buy any time soon.

For August, a monthly gauge of builder sentiment in the single-family home market compiled by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo Bank fell to its lowest level in more than 15 years, falling 7 points to a reading of 32, its lowest point since February 1991.

Similarly, the gauge of confidence in the condo market fell to a reading of 32, retreating from last year's record-high levels and a reading of 61.3 during the second quarter of 2005.

Confidence in the multi-family rental construction market, for both luxury and low-cost apartments, shot up 17.1% to a reading of 73.2, and confidence in the market for low-cost rental units rose by 10.6% to a level of 61.5.

“We are in the midst of a solid comeback on the rental apartment side of the multifamily housing market,” said David Seiders, the home builders' chief economist.

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