Regionally, confidence improved among builders in two of four regions, led by the Midwest, where the gauge rose to 53 from 51.
The survey was taken about a month after superstorm Sandy, which struck the Northeast on Oct. 29.
Hovnanian, based in Red Bank, New Jersey, has raised prices in more than half of its communities in the past year as the supply of homes for sale shrinks, Chief Executive Officer Ara K. Hovnanian said.
“Record low interest rates, attractive home prices, pent- up demand, a lower supply of existing homes for sale, improvement in the economy and employment and greater optimism are all helping drive the housing recovery,” Hovnanian said on a Dec. 13 earnings call. “This is occurring in spite of the restrictive mortgage lending environment and the number of underwater existing home buyers.”
For those who can qualify for a home loan, declining mortgage costs are making it cheaper to buy a house. The average fixed rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate purchase loan was 3.32 percent in the week ended Dec. 13, compared to 3.94 percent a year ago, according to Freddie Mac, based in McLean, Virginia.
A Commerce Department report tomorrow might show that housing starts slowed in November after reaching a four-year high the prior month. Builders broke ground on houses at an annual rate of 871,000 last month, down from 894,000 in October, according to the Bloomberg survey median.