The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index held steady in November, coming in even with October's upwardly revised reading of 19. Still, the index remains at its lowest point since NAHB began the survey in 1985.

NAHB attributed the depressed state of the index to continued instability in the mortgage markets, excess inventory of new single-family homes and negative media coverage of the housing market.

"Consistent with what builders said in last month's survey, many are reporting that their special sales incentives are having limited success in terms of getting buyers in the door," said NAHB president Brian Catalde, a home builder from El Segundo, Calif. "To be more specific, builders are worried that the national media has tended to report negative housing stories as if there is one real estate market, when, in fact, there is no such thing ­ all housing markets are local. As a result, some healthy markets are being unfairly impacted by this negative media coverage."

"The message from today's report is that builders do not see any significant change in housing market conditions as compared to last month," said NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders. "While they continue to work down inventories of unsold homes and reposition themselves for the market's eventual recovery, they realize it will be some time before market conditions support an upswing in building activity ­ most likely by the second half of 2008."

Among the components of the overall index, the November gauge of current sales conditions for single-family homes remained flat with October at 18, that of sales expectations for the next six months declined one point to 25, and that gauging traffic of prospective buyers rose two points to 17.

Regionally, the HMI for the Northeast was up one point to 27; up three points to 18 in the West; down one point to 13 in the Midwest and down two points to 19 in the South.

Carl Reichardt, home building analyst for Wachovia Capital Markets, put out a research note to investors that said, "Housing remains in a funk...Poor sentiment continues to support our view that deep discounting and increased incentives are not translating into increased unit demand in today's credit-constrained, over-inventoried environment.