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Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes remained solid in April, falling three points to a level of 68 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) after an unusually high March reading. Builders continue to report significant interest among potential home buyers, with the traffic measure continuing to score above the breakeven level of 50. It was 52 in April.

Contracts for new home sales expanded by 6.1% in February, according to estimates from the joint data release of HUD and the Census Bureau. The growth in sales continues along a positive trend for the market, which is supported by solid job growth, improving household formations, continuing favorable housing affordability conditions, and tight existing home inventory. The seasonally adjusted annual pace for February new single-family home sales was 592,000. This is 6.1% better than January and a 12.8% gain over a year ago.

Existing home sales, as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), reversed a January gain and decreased 3.7% in February. At the current sales rate, the February unsold inventory represents a 3.8-month supply, compared to a 3.5-month supply in January. February existing sales were up 5.4% from the same month a year ago, and reached a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.48 million compared to 5.69 million in January. Total existing home sales include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops. Existing sales increased 1.3% in the South, but declined by 3.1% in the West, 7.0% in the Midwest and 13.8% in the Northeast. Year-over-year, all regions advanced, ranging from 9.6% in the West to 1.5% in the Northeast.

Findings from the latest NAHB study on housing preferences, Housing Preferences of the Boomer Generation: How They Compare to Other Home Buyers, shows there are some similarities and differences in what home buyers of different generations want in terms of square footage and number of bedrooms in a new home. When asked how much finished space they would like to have, home buyers in general reported wanting a median of 2,020 square feet, about 9% more space than they currently have (1,859 sq. ft. Age plays a key role in desired home size, however) Buyers in the Millennial and Gen X generations both want homes over 2,300 square feet, whereas Boomers and Seniors would like homes under 1,900 square feet.