How is new-home construction faring this busy summer selling season? The answer depends on whom you ask.

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How is new-home construction faring this busy summer selling season? The answer depends on whom you ask.

The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development last week jointly announced their monthly new residential construction statistics for June, calculating a seasonally adjusted annual rate of nearly 1.2 million privately owned housing starts last month.

This is 9.8 percent about the revised May estimate, and 26.6 percent above the rate reported in June 2014, the agencies said. Single-family housing starts in June were at a rate of 685,000, 0.9 percent below the revised May figure of 691,000.

Piggybacking on this positive news was the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), which reported that builder confidence for newly built, single-family homes recently hit a level of 60, the highest level seen on the HMI since November 2005. Any number higher than 50 on the index indicates that more builders view conditions as good.

Builder confidence has been holding steady, as the HMI registered a score of 59 in June, a boost of five points since May.

“The fact that builder confidence has returned to levels not seen since 2005 shows that housing continues to improve at a steady pace,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a homebuilder from Blue Springs, Missouri. “As we head into the second half of 2015, we should expect a continued recovery of the housing market.”

NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said the June reading is in line with recent data showing stronger sales in both the new- and existing-home markets, as well as continued job growth.

“However, builders still face a number of challenges, including shortages of lots and labor,” Crowe noted.

Builders may also face challenges on the mortgage front. Last week, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said in its release of its monthly Builder Application Survey that mortgage applications for newly constructed homes increased by only 1 percent. On an unadjusted basis, there were 45,000 new-home sales in June 2015, unchanged from May, MBA said. In May, mortgage applications for new homes fell by 9 percent, the MBA said. The association attributed the sluggish sales to housing price recovery.

“As house prices continue to recover, mortgage applications for the purchase of newly constructed homes increased slightly in June,” said Lynn Fisher, MBA’s vice president of research and economics, but she noted, “Application activity in June was slightly higher compared to the past two years.”

Email Amy Swinderman.

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