The slow economic and housing recovery has moved the needle, but not by much. The NAHB/First American Leading Markets Index increased one point to .92 in the second quarter 2015. The index measures proximity to a normal economic and housing market with three components: single-family housing starts, employment and home prices. A value of 1 means the market (or country) is back to the last levels of normality.
Progress was also evident in individual markets. Slightly more than half (54%) of the metro areas measured increased their LMI score from the first quarter to the second and 66% improved from the same quarter last year.
About one-fifth of the 364 metro areas measured have a LMI value of 1 or better meaning those markets are back to or beyond the last normal. Most are in energy belt states that have benefited from solid and strong employment growth.
Of the three measures of normality, house prices has recovered the most with an average score of 1.29 and the national score is 1.35 meaning prices are 35% higher than the last normal. Ninety-five percent of the markets have a house price component value of 1 or above. The employment component is very close to normal with an average across all markets of .96 and the national component at the same level. Sixty-five markets have met or passed their last normal in terms of employment.
Single-family housing starts remains the farthest from normal with an average score across all markets of .49 and the national component index of .46, or less than half way back to normal. Only 26 markets are fully recovered in terms of single-family permits.