April 15 (UPI) -- Nationwide homebuilder sentiment took its greatest monthly tumble in the history of the National Association of Homebuilders/Wells Fargo Index, falling 42 points to 30 in April.
The monthly survey, which dates back to 1985, was conducted from April 1-13 after many of the shelter-in-place orders had taken place around the country and non-essential businesses shuttered in hope of curbing the coronavirus.
The index was expected to drop 55 points after holding at 72 in March and coming off of its 20-year-high of 76 in December. It was the first negative reading on the index since June 2014, where 50 points or higher is considered positive.
"This unprecedented drop in builder confidence is due exclusively to the coronavirus outbreak across the nation, as unemployment has skyrocketed and gaps in the supply chain have hampered construction activities," NAHB chairman Dean Mon, a homebuilder and developer from Shrewsbury, N.J., said in a statement.
The index is made up of current sales conditions, sales expectations over the next six months and buyer traffic. All three took major hits in the current survey with sales conditions dropping 43 points to 36, sales expectations 39 points to 36 and buyer traffic 43 points to 13.
"To show how hard and fast this outbreak has hit the housing sector, a recent poll of our members reveals that 96 percent reported that virus mitigation efforts were hurting buyer traffic," Robert Dietz, NAHB's chief economist, said. "While the virus is severely disrupting residential construction and the overall economy, the need and demand for housing remains acute."