Homebuilder exchange traded funds are capitalizing on the strengthening housing market, low-rate environment for new owners and greater consumer demand for home improvement.

Year-to-date, the SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (NYSEArca: XHB) rose 6.2% and the iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF (NYSEArca: ITB) gained 6.7%.

The low-yield environment has made it easier and cheaper for Americans to buy a new home, and the improving economy and lower gas prices have put more money into consumer wallets, which have bolstered home-improvement retailers and other related discretionary stocks.

“Housing is, I think, a wonderfully well-positioned sector,” Todd Gordon of TradingAnalysis.com said in a CNBC article. “Interest rates remain low, and I think that is positive for housing.”

The housing sector may be shedding off the winter freeze with the official start of the spring season as home construction companies offer an optimistic outlook. The positive readings on homebuilders activity suggests that the February housing starts decline was a result of the harsh winter weather, rather than weakness in underlying demand. [Early Spring Numbers Reveal Homebuilder ETFs’ Underlying Strength]

Additionally, the Commerce Department revealed that new home sales in the U.S. unexpectedly jumped 7.8% in February, the most since February 2008, Bloomberg reports.

“It looks like the spring selling season is off to a good start,” Stan Shipley, an economist at Evercore ISI, said in the Bloomberg article. “With low mortgage rates, if you look at it, it’s very affordable for most potential homeowners,” even as credit remains tight.

Along with the direct home construction play, David Seaburg, head of equity sales trading with Cowen & Co., also believes specialty home-improvement retailers are in a good position.

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