WASHINGTON - The outlook among homebuilders improved a bit in June, but prospects for home construction remain anything but promising.
An index of builders’ outlook for their industry rose two points to 15, the National Association of Home Builders said. Any reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market. The index has not reached 50 since April 2006.
Builder sentiment is still just seven points above the lowest reading on record, in January 2009.
Cash-strapped builders are struggling amid foreclosures and short sales, when lenders allow borrowers to sell homes for less than what is owed on the mortgages. Lower-than-expected home appraisals are scuttling deals. And loans are harder to come by.
“Basically, the market continues to bounce along the bottom, with conditions in some locations beginning to improve,’’ said David Crowe, the trade group’s chief economist.
Still, an index that gauges sales expectations over the next six months rose sharply, by seven points, returning to the level it had reached in April. That’s despite weak foot traffic by potential buyers, which held steady between May and June.