In a series of good news on the new homes front, home builder sentiment fell only slightly to 57 for the month of January, this according to the National Association of Home Builders. This figure is down just a point from December’s reading.

Any number above 50 is a sign of builder optimism so innew home builder sentiment general home builders are still feeling pretty good. At the same time, in December housing starts rose to a level not seen since 2008. Annualized, new home starts rose 4.4 percent.

New home starts surprised a few and many are hoping this is only a beginning on the housing front as part of the economic recovery. While existing home prices in general have been on a gradual rise for the past two years, the pace of home buying, both for new and existing homes, has been rather tepid. Economists are hoping these new starts will continue to allow more buyers into the market, keeping values within range for most.

Financing costs for home buyers will also help get more buyers into the market as mortgage rates have continued to fall with 30 year mortgage rates for a primary residence averaged 3.66% and 15 year rates fell below 3.00% for the first time since May of 2013. Until global markets get some sort of traction both in Europe and Asia, it’s likely mortgage rates will stay near current levels and will most certainly keep any talk of rate increases by the Fed at bay. In fact, many are now anticipating no Fed action at least until later this year, perhaps as late as Q4 2015. If that’s the case, we would only hope that the U.S. economy is holding as well as it has considering the performance of global markets overseas.