It may be summertime, but the livin’ is not easy for builders. Last week, the NAHB/Wells-Fargo Housing Market Index dropped to its lowest-ever reading of 16 as IndyMac reopened under federal oversight, the housing bill languished in Congress, and a Treasury plan to boost investor confidence and the foundations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac hit rough political waters.
Will such government intervention really help? Maybe,but not if they don’t get moving.—Alison Rice
New-Home Sales: How Low Will They Go?
The latest figures on new-home sales come out Friday, and BUILDER wants to know where you think the figures will fall. Give us your best estimate at the BUILDER Prediction Center.
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If higher fuel prices change family dynamics, they impact home buying decisions as well. Simple economics dictates that the $200 or $300 a month families pay for gas leaves less money for a mortgage payment.
Special Report: Where Housing and Gas Prices Intersect
See how $4-per-gallon gas is
affecting home buyers’ decisions and home builders’ sales strategies.
Home buyers swearthey’re more interested in energy-efficient features than luxury amenities, and a growing number of buyers are seeking smaller, more environmentally homes. Apparently they aren’t investors in Centex, though, whose shareholders recently told the company to scrap a proposal to create a sustainability policy.
Builders see the housing market as bleaker every month, as the July HMI shows. Who can blame them with developments like the seizure of major mortgage lender IndyMac by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. or the ongoing debate over down-payment assistance? Builders aren’t the only ones who are worried, either, as the Treasury’s attempt to calm the markets shows. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is finally responding to the subprime meltdown with new rules intended to protect borrowers with such higher-priced mortgage loans— if that market existed at the moment.
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