by. Victoria Stilwell
Confidence among U.S. homebuilders rose more than forecast in July, reaching the highest level in six months, as growing payrolls brightened the outlook after a shaky first half.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo sentiment measure climbed to 53 from 49 in June, the Washington-based group reported today. Readings above 50 mean more respondents said conditions were good. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists projected it would rise to 50.
The housing market is showing signs of improvement after higher mortgage rates and harsh winter weather stalled the recovery earlier this year. A strengthening labor market, combined with wage gains and rising consumer sentiment, will probably support further progress in the industry as the Federal Reserve winds down its unprecedented stimulus program.
“If you’re thinking about buying a home, it’s a pretty good time,” said Brian Jones, a senior economist at Societe Generale in New York, who correctly forecast in the jump in builder sentiment. “You get employment going, you’re in the midst of a fairly low interest rate environment and home affordability is actually pretty high.”continue reading »