The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that confidence among home builders for single-family dwellings rose four points to 18 on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), the largest monthly increase since the tax credit program of April 2010. Based on builders’ perceptions of current home sales and expectations for the next six months, the HMI survey is in its 20th year. A score above 50 indicates more builders consider conditions good rather than poor. NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe says, “It’s worth noting that while some builders have shifted their assessment of market conditions from ‘poor’ to ‘fair,’ relatively few have shifted their assessments from ‘fair’ to ‘good.’ One reason is that builders are facing downward pricing pressures from foreclosed homes at the same time that building materials costs are rising, and this is further squeezing already tight margins.” Regionally, the West scored the best, gaining nine points to 21, that regions best HMI score since Aug. 2007. The Midwest and South each gained four points, while the Northeast was unchanged. In a related development, the U.S. Commerce Department says housing starts rose 15.7 percent in September to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 658,000 units, the largest increase in a year and a half. The increase is due largely to multi-family starts.