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Builders find housing market improving among older buyers

55+ buyers have high expectations, find new construction meets their needs

Builder confidence in the single-family 55+ housing market for buyers 55 years old and beyond was up year over year in the second quarter of 2014.

The National Association of Home Builders' 55+ Housing Market Index released Thursday shows that the single-family index increased three points to a level of 56, which is the highest second-quarter reading since the NAHB started the index in 2008 and the 11th consecutive quarter of year over year improvements.

"We have seen steady improvement in the 55+ housing sector as buyers and renters are attracted to new homes that offer many of the luxuries and conveniences they desire," said Steve Bomberger, chairman of NAHB's 50+ Housing Council and president of Benchmark Builders Inc. in Wilmington, Del.

"55+ buyers are very selective and have high expectations, and new construction can meet their needs and discerning tastes," he added.

NAHB has separate 55+ indexes for the market: single-family homes and multifamily condominiums.

Each index measures builder sentiment based on a survey that asks if current sales, prospective buyer traffic and anticipated six-month sales for that market are good, fair or poor (high, average or low for traffic). An index number below 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as poor than good.

Two of the components of the 55+ single-family HMI posted increases from a year ago: present sales climbed seven points to 61 and expected sales for the next six months rose one point to 61. Meanwhile, traffic of prospective buyers dropped six points to 42.

Although the 55+ multifamily condo index dipped five points to 38, it is still the second highest reading for the second quarter since the inception of the index.

All three components of the index decreased for the second quarter: present sales dropped five points to 39, expected sales for the next six months fell four points to 42 and traffic of prospective buyers dropped three points to 35.

The indices tracking production and demand of 55+ multifamily rentals moved in different directions in the second quarter. Present production rose three points to 53, expected future production increased one point to 53, while current demand for existing units dropped three points to 59 and future demand fell two points to 61.

"One of the factors contributing to the positive signs in the 55+ housing market is the slow but steady increase in existing home sales in the last three months," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "The 55+ market is strongly driven by consumers being able to sell their existing homes at a favorable price in order to buy or rent in a 55+ community."

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