Optimism is easing this month among the nation's home builders whose housing market index fell 3 points in September to 64, matching July as the weakest month of the year. Hurricane effects are not pronounced though the index for the South did fall 4 points to 65, yet the index for the Midwest shows the most weakness, down 6 points to 59. The West, which is a focused region for home builders, continues to lead the report, up 2 points to 79 while the Northeast continues to lag, up 1 point at 50.
Buyer traffic remains under breakeven 50, down 1 point at 47 reflecting lack of first time buyers who are being kept out of the new home market by high prices and lack of available properties. Six-month sales are down 4 points to 73 with current sales also down 4 points, to 70.
Today's report hints at weakness for tomorrow's housing starts & permits where another set of mixed results are the expectations. The housing market, now hit by the impacts of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, looks to have a difficult time accelerating into year end.
Hurricanes are expected to hit the housing market index which forecasters see falling 2 points to 66 with the low estimate all the way down at 53. Going into the September report, home builders had been unusually optimistic even as housing starts and permits, along with buyer traffic, have been lagging.