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Homebuilder confidence finally on the rise

Homebuilder confidence is up.

Homebuilder confidence is up.

The improved economy and unemployment rate may be what's leading homebuilders to be optimistic about how busy they'll be in March.

For the first time in four months, builder confidence in the newly built, single-family homes market improved in March, rising one point to 17 on the National Association of Home Builders' Housing Market Index.

"Builders are cautiously looking forward to the spring homebuying season in hopes that improving economic conditions will help bring more buyers to the table," said NAHB chairman Bob Nielsen. "However, the same factors that have been weighing down the market are still very much in play, particularly competition from short sales and foreclosures, [and] consumers' inability to sell their existing home."

Nielsen also said restrictive lending practices are adversely affecting the market.

People who have been putting off moving may find it more difficult to secure a mortgage as lending restrictions have tightened and could become even more strict amid proposals for a higher down payment requirement on qualified residential mortgages. According to CoreLogic, only 54 percent of homeowners with a mortgage could afford to put up a 20 percent down payment using the proceeds they received from their previous home's sale.