By Alex Veiga | AP REAL ESTATE WRITER AUGUST 19, 2014
Home builders are feeling more confident headed into next year that construction and sales will pick up after stalling this summer.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index, released Monday, rose this month to 55, up two points from a revised reading of 53 in July.
It was the third monthly increase in a row and the highest since January, when the index was at 56. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.
Sales of new homes are running behind last year’s pace. They slid 8.1 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 406,000.
Rising home prices, higher mortgage rates, and meager wage growth have made it more difficult for would-be home buyers, particularly first-time buyers.
In the latest index, based on responses from 366 US builders, confidence improved nationally and regionally, with readings for the Midwest, West, Northeast, and South all posting gains.
Housing, while still a long way from the boom of several years ago, has been recovering over the past two years.