The list of major markets (MSAs) included in the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) grew to 274 out of a possible 361 in March, from 259 in February. With 76 percent of the markets included the housing market recovery is on more solid footing than it was at this time last year.
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. The index has shown steady growth over the past year as national measures of housing market improvement including housing starts and house prices have also shown consistent strength.
While we expect this positive momentum to continue, it’s important to understand that many markets are just beginning the recovery process, and that numerous issues – from credit availability to the rising cost of building materials and emerging lot shortages – are slowing the pace of that advancement.
The expanding housing recovery is energizing communities nationwide by generating jobs and local tax revenues and it could be an even more potent force for economic growth if credit for building and buying homes was more readily available.