The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) 55+ Single-Family Housing Market Index (HMI), based on a survey of builders who produce housing designed to meet the needs of mature consumers, showed a six-point increase in the third quarter of 2009, to a seasonally-adjusted level of 21. That is the highest level recorded since the inception of the series in the fourth quarter of 2008, though still considered a fairly weak number. Each of the 55+ single-family HMI components rose between the second and third quarters of 2009. The component gauging present sales conditions increased four points to 19, while the component gauging sales expectations for the next six months rose nine points to 32 and the component measuring traffic of prospective buyers increased seven points to 19. “As the home buyer tax credit stimulated sales among first-time buyers and stabilized home prices in many areas, older households were able to sell their existing homes, and pursue a home in a 55-plus community,” said David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist. “The recent extension and expansion of the tax credit should extend the domino effect from first-time buyers and expand the effect by providing a credit to repeat buyers as well.” Meanwhile, the 55+ Market Index for multifamily condos, which is not seasonally adjusted, currently stands at 13--a level it generally has maintained since the inception of the series. The future expectations component for that segment, currently at 21--its highest since the data has been collected--reflects condo builders’ expectations of tepid improvements in the future. The multifamily rental segment of the 55+ HMI declined slightly in terms of both current and expected starts, remaining at nearly the same levels as the last two quarters. “Although the 55+ market, like the housing industry in general, has shown small signs of recovery, production remains far below levels that should be sustainable, given the size and age structure of the U.S. population,” said Crowe. All the segments of the 55+ HMIs are diffusion indexes, derived from quarterly surveys of builders and developers in which they rank their perceptions of the current conditions and expectations for the future as “good,” “fair,” or “poor.” The responses are used to create a scale of 0 to 100, with a rating of 50 generally indicating that the number of positive responses is about the same as the number of negative responses. NAHB 55+ Housing Market Index tables can be accessed by clicking here. For more information, visit www.nahb.org.