US Economy

Homebuilders' Confidence Falls as They Wait Months for Cabinets, Garage Doors and Appliances

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  • Homebuilder confidence fell for the second straight month.
  • Residential construction costs are up 21% year over year.
  • "These delivery delays are raising construction costs and pricing prospective buyers out of the market," said the chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

Supply chain issues for homebuilders appear to be getting worse, and that is weighing on confidence in the industry.

Builder confidence in the single-family, newly built housing market fell 1 point in February to 82 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. That is the second straight month of declines. Anything above 50 is considered positive. The index stood at 84 in February 2021.

"Production disruptions are so severe that many builders are waiting months to receive cabinets, garage doors, countertops and appliances," said NAHB Chairman Jerry Konter, a builder from Savannah, Georgia. "These delivery delays are raising construction costs and pricing prospective buyers out of the market."

Surging lumber prices are also adding thousands of dollars to the cost of new homes.

Homebuyers are already contending with rising interest rates. The average rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage just crossed over 4%, well over a full percentage point higher than it was a year ago. Add higher rates to higher home prices, and some buyers are simply unable to afford it. This is why rental demand is currently so high.

"Residential construction costs are up 21% on a year over year basis, and these higher development costs have hit first-time buyers particularly hard," said Robert Dietz, NAHB's chief economist. "Higher interest rates in 2022 will further reduce housing affordability even as demand remains solid due to a lack of resale inventory."

Of the index's three components, current sales conditions increased 1 point to 90, and sales expectations in the next six months fell 2 points to 80. Buyer traffic fell 4 points to 65.

Regionally, on a three-month moving average, sentiment in the Northeast increased 3 points to 76. In the West it rose 1 point to 89, and in the Midwest it fell 1 point to 73. Sentiment in the South dropped 1 point to 86.

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