An index of U.S. homebuilders' confidence fell to the lowest level of the year this month amid concern that an increase in mortgage defaults is resulting in tighter lending standards that are discouraging would-be buyers.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index of sentiment fell to 33 from 36 in March, the Washington-based association said today. A reading below 50 means most respondents view conditions as poor.
According to today's report, single-family home sales have fallen this month and builders' outlooks for the next six months are at the lowest level since October. That, along with rising defaults on subprime mortgages and excess inventory levels, suggests a greater drag on construction this year.
Of course -- housing has bottomed, right?
Seriously, I think this is a very important number because these are people who are familiar with the market -- intimately familiar. Most importantly, as CEOs they are paid to put on a solid public face. When they are actually saying things aren't that good it's very important to listen.