The number of metropolitan markets on the NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) rose to 101 in April from 99 in March. Markets on the list must have improved in the three critical indicators of employment, housing permits and home prices for six months or more.
In April, 88 markets remained from the March list, 13 more were added and 11 markets dropped off. Except for Syracuse NY, ten markets fell off the list because their relatively small house price gains that got them on the list fell below their respective prior troughs. The average house price increase for the ten dropped markets was 0.4% compared to 3.2% for all others. Syracuse’s housing permits fell below their previous low.
The index has continued to grow since inception in September 2011 although the past two months have shown very small growth, up one point from February to March and two points in April. Economic and housing recovery will continue to improve but the path may not be steady as job growth slowly spreads to a wider variety of economic sectors.
At 101, the total number of markets on the IMI is more than one-quarter of all metropolitan areas.
As seen on the map below, the markets represented are spread across the US and include metro areas that suffered severe downturns, e.g., Detroit, and those that had much less pain, e.g. 11 Texas metros. The primary point of the index is demonstration that markets are local and there is a wide difference in recovery speed and timing across the US.