Homebuilder confidence buried under pile of snow

February 19, 2014 Updated Feb 19, 2014 at 8:49 AM EDT

By Kent Hoover, Washington Bureau Chief

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Homebuilder confidence buried under pile of snow

February 19, 2014 Updated Feb 19, 2014 at 8:49 AM EDT

Homebuilders joined retailers and auto dealers in reporting negative effects from this year's harsh winter -- builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes plunged 10 points in February.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index came in at 46 this month, down from 56 in January. That's the lowest score in nine months. The index is based on a survey of home builders, who are asked about their perceptions of the current and near-term housing market.

All of the index's major components fell in February. Geographically, the Northeast was the weakest area, down four points to 38, and the West was the best, unchanged at 63.

"Significant weather conditions across most of the country led to a decline in buyer traffic last month," said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer in Wilmington, Del.

Winter will end someday, but warmer weather won't solve all of home builders' problems.

"Clearly, constraints on the supply chain for building materials, developed lots and skilled workers are making builders worry," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

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