Home Builders Brighten Their View -- a Bit

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homebuilder confidence HMIHomeowners, take heart -- the market shows signs of life yet. For the first time in four months, home builder confidence inched up one point to its highest level since May.

Home builder confidence in new, single-family homes rose to a score of 17 in March, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. The last time builder confidence was this high, the controversial 2010 first-time homebuyer tax credit was still driving sales.

But even with the recent uptick, home builders must contend with prevailing obstacles such as competition from short sales and foreclosures, a weak sellers' market and a restrictive lending environment.

Generally, a score of 50 or higher indicates that a majority of home builders view the market favorably, but the index has not reached this tipping point since April, 2006-when the housing bubble was primed to burst.

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