The housing index from the National Association of Home Builders remained flat in February for the fourth consecutive month. The overall index at 16 remains stubbornly low, barely budging over the past nine months. Current single family sales rose slightly from 15 to 17, while expected sales over the next six months are back to 25, where they were at the end of last year. Also, the traffic of prospective buyers saw no improvement compared to last month.
The less than enthusiastic expectations of builders, coincides with a weak start to February in mortgage applications — where the Mortgage Bankers Association’s for purchase index is down 3% for February so far. The slow start to this month also comes off the heels of a terribly weak January, seeing the index decline 8%. Overall, the early data is pointing to a sluggish spring market, a key season for the homebuilders. [today]