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Housing Market Index slips 2 points

February 20, 2002
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WASHINGTON -- After a climbing 13 points through November, December and January, the National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) Housing Market Index (HMI) dropped 2 points to 58 in February.

"Home builders still have a very positive outlook on the market for new single-family homes, thanks to continuing low interest rates, improving consumer confidence and other solid market fundamentals," said Gary Garczynski, the newly elected NAHB president and a home builder from Woodbridge, Va. "The February number represents a small decline after the rebound from post-Sept. 11 lows. We're now looking at a strong, sustainable level of builder confidence in the beginning of what promises to be a good year for home builders and buyers."

In February's HMI, the index gauging current sales of single-family homes declined 3 points to 61 from the previous month, while the index gauging traffic of prospective buyers fell four points to 46. However, the index gauging sales expectations for the next six months remained unchanged at a very solid 66.

The HMI is derived from a monthly survey of builders that NAHB has been conducting for nearly two decades. Homebuilders are asked to rate current sales of single-family homes and sales expectations for the next six months as "good,' 'fair' or 'poor.' They are also asked to rate traffic of prospective buyers as either 'high to very high," "average" or "low to very low."

Scores for each responses component are used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index, where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor. In January, the HMI index gauging current single-family home sales and the index gauging sales expectations for the next six months each rose 3 points from December, to 64 and 67, respectively. The increases were their highest levels since August. The index gauging traffic of prospective buyers rose 4 points to 50, its highest reading since February of 2000.

The National Association of Home Builders (www.nahb.com) is a federation of more than 800 state and local builders associations throughout the United States. The mission of this Washington, D.C.-based trade association is to enhance the climate for housing and the building industry, and to promote policies that will keep housing a national priority. Chief among NAHB's goals is providing and expanding opportunities for all consumers to have safe, decent and affordable housing.

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