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U.S. homebuilder confidence dips, but still well above average

U.S. homebuilder confidence dips, but still well above average
Experts said next month's report should show the full impact of the coronavirus outbreak. File Photo by Alexis C. Glenn/UPI | License Photo

March 17 (UPI) -- Confidence in U.S. homebuilding has fallen off slightly this month, likely a direct result of the economic influence of the coronavirus outbreak, an industry report said Tuesday.

The report on U.S. homebuilder sentiment from the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index fell to 72 points in the first week of March, but it's still well above the mark of 62 in March 2019. A measure of 50 points or more is considered positive.

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The score reached 76 in December, when the coronavirus emerged in China, and has slowly fallen off since.

"Builder confidence remains solid, although sales expectations for the next six months dropped four points on economic uncertainty stemming from the coronavirus," NAHB Chairman Dean Mon said in a statement. "Interest rates remain low, and a lack of inventory creates market opportunities for single-family builders."

The NAHB, however, said the next report in April will reflect the full impact of the coronavirus on homebuyers.

"It is important to note that half of the builder responses in the March [report] were collected prior to March 4, so the recent stock market declines and the rising economic impact of the coronavirus will be reflected more in next month's report," NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said, calling the spread an "emerging issue."

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Some real estate agents have noted slower traffic in recent days and realtors have canceled some open houses while potential buyers maintain social distance.

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