The number of improving housing markets expanded for the sixth consecutive month in February 2013, reaching 259 metropolitan areas, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI).
The number is up from 242 markets listed as improving in January 2013. The list now includes markets in all 50 states and the District of the Columbia. The first release of the index, in September 2011, listed only 12 improving markets.
The IMI lists metro areas of the United States that have shown at least six consecutive months of improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment, and house prices.
Twenty new metros were added to the list and three were dropped from the list in February.
"The fact that all 50 states now have at least one metro on the improving list shows that the housing recovery has substantial momentum and continues to expand from one market to the next," said 2013 NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, NC. "Of course, there is still much room for improvement in metros that have not yet been listed as well as those that have, and we know that a key factor slowing this progress is today's overly stringent mortgage standards that are keeping qualified buyers on the sidelines."
"Just over 70% of the 361 metros covered by the IMI are listed as improving this month," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "That's a far cry from when we initiated this index with just 12 improving metros in September of 2011 for the purpose of highlighting places that didn't fit the mold of the national headlines. Today, the story is about how widespread the recovery has become as conditions steadily improve in markets nationwide."
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