Builder confidence rises to highest level since May

For a third consecutive month, builder confidence levels have improved for newly built, single-family homes, a new survey indicates.

According to the National Association of Home Builders' Housing Market Index, builder confidence increased two points to 21 in December, marking the highest point for that index in more than a year and a half.

"This is the first time that builder confidence has improved for three consecutive months since mid-2009, which signifies a legitimate though slowly emerging upward trend," said David Crowe, chief economist for the NAHB.

He added that while feelings of job insecurity and a high number of foreclosed properties have been a weight on the market, builders have noticed a considerable amount of interest among homebuyers recently compared to previous months.

Consumers' interest in purchasing properties may stem from a sense of confidence in their credit reports, which is one of the things lenders take into consideration when deciding whether to approve a loan request. A recent report from TransUnion found that consumer debt levels have diminished.