National Association of Home Builders: Nearly 100 house markets improving

WASHINGTON – Feb. 6, 2012 – The list of housing markets showing measurable improvement expanded by 29 metros in February for a total of 98 entries on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI).

With the latest addition of Miami, the list now includes seven Florida cities: Cape Coral, Deltona, Jacksonville, Miami, North Port, Punta Gorda and Tampa. Thirty-six states have at least one metro area that’s improving.

The index lists metropolitan areas that have shown improvement in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. The February index adds some metropolitan areas that have been particularly weak. The IMI measures improvement from an economic trough, and NAHB says new notable entrants with six months of an upswing include Miami along with Boston; Detroit; Kansas City, Mo.; Portland, Ore.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Salt Lake City.

“The number of improving housing markets has risen for six consecutive months,” says NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen. “Despite the many challenges that continue to drag on a housing recovery – including the tight lending environment for builders and buyers – improving conditions are slowly but surely spreading from one housing market to the next.”

“While many of the markets on the February IMI are far from fully recovered, the index points out where employment, home prices and housing production are no longer retreating and have held above their lowest recession troughs for six months or more,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “This is a sign that a large cross section of the country is starting to turn the corner as local economic conditions stabilize.”

The IMI measures three sets of independent monthly data to get a mark on the top improving Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA). The three indicators are employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation from Freddie Mac, and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. An MSA must have improvement in all three areas for at least six months following their respective troughs to be included on the improving markets list.

Seven markets dropped from the NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index in February as they experienced softening house prices: San Jose, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; Kankakee, Ill.; New Orleans; Worcester, Mass.; Jackson, Miss.; and Sherman, Tex.

A complete list of all 98 metropolitan areas currently on the IMI, and a separate breakout of metros newly added to the list in February, is available at: www.nahb.org/imi.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®