The number of new homes being built can be a good gauge of the housing market’s health. After all, home builders wouldn’t be building homes unless they felt confident that those homes would sell. And buyers wouldn’t be interested in buying a new home unless the housing market and economy were doing well. For this reason, the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index is an important indicator. Released monthly, the survey measures builders’ confidence in the new home market on a scale where any number above 50 indicates more builders view conditions as good than poor. In May, the index was up, rising three points to 66. Among its components, those measuring current sales conditions and expectations for the next six months were both at 72. Robert Dietz, NAHB’s chief economist, says conditions are improving for home buyers, with lower mortgage rates and a strong economy leading the way. “This lower-interest rate environment, along with ongoing job growth and rising wages, is contributing to a gradual improvement in the marketplace,” Dietz said.