US homebuilder confidence dips to an eight-month low

Concerns mount over high material prices

A lack of lumber has U.S. homebuilders pining for better days.

Homebuilders polled by the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo reported sentiment fell to an eight-month low in July, Bloomberg News reported.

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Rising material costs, particularly for lumber, is one of the industry’s key concerns, facing builders with the choice of trying to pass the added expense on to buyers or absorb the extra cost.

“Our members are telling us they are growing increasingly concerned over rising material prices, particularly lumber,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald. “This is hurting housing affordability even as consumer interest in the new-home market remains strong.”

Builders see demand as remaining strong, but higher prices could put a damper on sales activity. The average cost of building in New York City, meanwhile, was $354 per square foot last year – the priciest in the world. [Bloomberg]Rich Bockmann