Following seven consecutive months of gains, the list of improving U.S. housing markets remained virtually unchanged in April, with 273 metros on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI). This total reflects a net reduction of one market since March and again includes entrants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The IMI identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. Five new markets were added to the list and six markets were dropped from it this month. Newcomers included Macon, Ga.; Portland, Maine; Rocky Mount, N.C.; Eugene, Ore.; and Jackson, Tenn.
"After a strong run-up through late 2012 and early 2013, the number of improving markets is holding steady at a high level," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "We can expect to see more gradual gains going forward as challenges related to increased demand kick in - including everything from tightened supplies of developable lots and labor to the rising cost of building materials."
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 metro 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 273 metropolitan areas currently on the IMI, and separate breakouts of metros newly added to or dropped from the list in April, is available at www.nahb.org/imi