Flight from the Cities: Home Builder Sentiment Jumps to All-Time Record High

Homebuilder in hardhat.
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Millions of Americans are unemployed. The economy is struggling to recover from the sharpest contraction in history. Coronavirus infection rates are rising.

And the housing market is experiencing an unexpected boom, pushing homebuilder confidence to record highs month after month.

The National Association of Home Builders’s monthly confidence index rose 2 points to a reading of 85 in October, the trade group said Monday. This is the highest reading ever recorded on the index and only the second time it has registered above 80.

Economists had expected the index to remain at last months 83 or perhaps to cool a bit following blistering climbs to record highs in August and September.

Index readings over 50 are a sign of improving confidence. The index had fallen below 50 in April and May.

Each of the three components of the index either broke or matched record highs. Current sales conditions for single-family homes rose 2 points to 90. Expectations for sales over the next six months climbed 3 points to 88. Buyer traffic was unchanged at 74, a record high.

Extremely low mortgage rates have helped keep homes within reach of buyers despite rising prices. Many Americans are relocating to suburbs in search of more space for remote working, remote schooling, and social distance. Major American cities have been plagued by climbing murder rates and shootings in the wake of anti-police marches that frequently turned violent and escalated into riots.

The three-month moving average of confidence, which smoothes out month to month volatility, moved higher across the country. In the Northeast, the regional index rose 6 points to 82. The Midwest index climbed 3 points to 75. The South increased 3 points to 82. The West rose 5 points to 90.

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