Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes improved three points to a 44 reading on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for May. This gain, from a downwardly revised 41 in April, reflected improvement in all three index components - current sales conditions, sales expectations and traffic of prospective buyers. "Builders are noting an increased sense of urgency among potential buyers as a result of thinning inventories of homes for sale, continuing affordable mortgage rates and strengthening local economies," said National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. "This is definitely an encouraging sign even amidst rising challenges with regard to the cost and availability of building materials, lots and labor." Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as "good," "fair" or "poor." The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as "high to very high," "average" or "low to very low." Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor. "While industry supply chains will take time to re-establish themselves following recession-related cutbacks, builders' views of current sales conditions have improved and expectations for the future remain quite strong as consumers head back to the market in force," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. All three HMI components posted gains in May. The index gauging current sales conditions increased four points to 48, while the index gauging expectations for future sales edged up a single point to 53 - its highest level since February of 2007. The index gauging traffic of prospective buyers gained three points to 33. Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, no movement was recorded in the Northeast, Midwest or South, which held unchanged at 37, 45 and 42, respectively. Only the West recorded a decline, of six points to 49 in May.