Aug. U.S. homebuilder optimism hits 2005 levels

WASHINGTON (AP) – Aug. 17, 2015 – U.S. homebuilders grew slightly more optimistic about the housing market in August, putting their confidence at levels last seen a decade ago during the debt-fueled housing boom.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Monday rose this month to 61, the highest level since November 2005. The reading was 60 in both June and July. Any reading above 50 indicates more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.

“The fact the builder confidence has been in the low 60s for three straight months shows that single-family housing is making slow but steady progress,” said Tom Woods, a Missouri-based builder and chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

Through the first half of 2015, the government reported that new-home purchases shot up 21.2 percent to 274,000.

This comes as employers have added 2.9 million workers over the past year and the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.3 percent from 6.2 percent. The hiring has infused the economy with new paychecks that have supported the spending on housing and autos, among other expenses.

And average mortgage rates remain under 4 percent, putting them about two percentage points below this historical average.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.94 percent last week.

AP Logo Copyright © 2015 The Associated Press, Josh Boak. All rights reserved. This material may not be

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