The number of improving housing markets continued to expand for a sixth consecutive month to a total of 259 metropolitan areas on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) for February. This is up from 242 markets listed as improving in January and includes entrants from all 50 states and the District of the Columbia.
The IMI identifies metro areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment, and house prices for at least six consecutive months. A total of 20 new metros were added to the list and three were dropped from it this month. Newly added metros include Rome, Ga.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Racine, Wis.
"Just over 70 percent of the 361 metros covered by the IMI are listed as improving this month," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "That's a far cry from when we initiated this index with just 12 improving metros in September of 2011 for the purpose of highlighting places that didn't fit the mold of the national headlines. Today, the story is about how widespread the recovery has become as conditions steadily improve in markets nationwide."
The IMI is designed to track housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of improving economic health. The index measures three sets of independent monthly data to get a mark on the top improving Metropolitan Statistical Areas.
The three indicators that are analyzed 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. NAHB uses the latest available data from these sources to generate a list of improving markets. A metropolitan area must see improvement in all three measures for at least six consecutive months following those measures' respective troughs before being included on the improving markets list.
A complete list of all 259 metropolitan areas currently on the IMI, and separate breakouts of metros newly added to or dropped from the list in February, is available at www.nahb.org/imi