WASHINGTON -- Builders of new single-family homes continue to believe that the worst of the downswing in home buying is behind them, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for December. At 32 for the present month, the overall HMI is down a single point from November but remains above the recent low of 30 in September.

Regionally, the HMI posted the biggest gain this time around in the Midwest, which has shown the greatest weakness in this measure for many months, by posting a seven-point gain to 22. The Northeast was unchanged at 37, the South dropped a point to 39 and the West declined four points to 31.

NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders noted that the recent stabilization of home buyer demand largely reflects reductions in mortgage interest rates since mid-year, the retreat of energy prices from record highs, and maintenance of solid growth in employment and household income.


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