The number of improving housing markets across the country rose to 99 in September, up from 80 metros that were listed as improving in August. The index now includes representatives from 33 states as well as the District of Columbia.
The index identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. Markets added to the list in September include such geographically diverse locations as Tucson, Ariz.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Springfield, Ill.; Greenville, N.C.; and Bend, Ore.
More metros across the country are experiencing a sustained uptick in house prices, employment and new building activity as rising consumer confidence in local market conditions pushes more people to consider a new-home purchase. That said, overly tight lending conditions for builders and buyers continue to slow this process considerably.
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 months following those measures’ respective troughs before being included on the improving markets list.