Home builder sentiment at 1-1/2-year high in November

WASHINGTON Wed Nov 16, 2011 10:02am EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Home-builder sentiment scaled a 1-1/2-year high in November, a survey showed on Wednesday, but conditions remain very weak to signal a turnaround in the depressed housing market.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market index rose three points to 20 this month, the highest level since May 2010. Economists polled by Reuters had expected the index to edge up to 18.

A reading above 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor and the index has not been above that level since April 2006.

"The overall measure remains quite low due to the many challenges that home building continues to face with regard to the high number of foreclosures, the difficulties of obtaining construction financing ... and the restrictive lending environment that is discouraging potential buyers," said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen.

All of the index's three components recorded gains in November. A measure of current sales conditions rose three points to 20, the highest level since May 2010, while a gauge of future sales expectations rose two points to 25. That was the highest reading since March.

A measure of prospective buyers rose one point to 15 -- highest since May 2010.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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