The number of improving housing markets expanded for a fourth consecutive month in December, rising from 30 to 41 on the latest National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI). The December list featured 20 new additions and the removal of nine smaller markets from the list.
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. New entrants to the list in December include Ann Arbor, Mich.; Athens, Ga.; Boulder, Colo.; Burlington, Vt.; Canton, Ohio; Charleston, W.Va.; Danville, Va.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Grand Forks, N.D.; Jackson, Miss.; Kingsport, Tenn.; Laredo, Texas; Lincoln, Neb.; Muncie, Ind.; Muskegon, Mich.; San Jose, Calif.; Scranton, Pa.; Toledo, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; and Winchester, Va.
The nine markets that dropped off the IMI in December include Alexandria, La.; Fairbanks, Alaska; Hinesville, Ga.; Houma, La.; Jonesboro, Ark.; Lima, Ohio; Pine Bluff, Ark.; Sumter, S.C.; and Waco, Texas. All but two of these metros fell from the list due to softening house prices. The exceptions to the rule were Jonesboro and Waco, where declines were registered in employment and single-family housing permits, respectively.
‘The December IMI results are very much in keeping with the latest government housing data and our own builder surveys, which have shown modest signs of improvement in certain individual markets where employment is gaining and distressed properties are not as numerous,’ says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. ‘These gradual improvements are now becoming evident not just in small, energy-producing metros that have previously dominated the IMI, but also in several larger markets and areas with more diverse economies.’