The number of U.S. housing markets with measurable improvement climbed to 99 in March 2012, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI). The improving markets are in the District of Columbia and 32 states.
"With nearly 100 metros showing consistent improvement in local economic and housing conditions, more consumers are feeling confident enough to take advantage of the buyer's market this spring," said Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company.
The index identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their troughs in housing permits, employment, and house prices for at least six consecutive months. The March IMI was one higher than in February 2012, with 31 markets added and 30 markets slipping from the list, which NAHB said was due primarily to incremental softening in house prices.
New entrants on the IMI in March included:
* Orlando, FL
* Rochester, NY
* Columbus, OH
* Austin, TX
* San Antonio, TX
Returning to the list after recent revisions in their employment data:
* Iowa City
* Washington, D.C.
* Jackson, MS
"Ten states now have four or more metros on the improving markets list, with Texas's 12 entries topping all others," said NAHB Chairman Barry Rutenberg. "The point is that economic conditions have been consistently strengthening in a diverse array of individual markets nationwide."
"After five consecutive months of solid gains, the March IMI held virtually flat this month at just under 100 metros, while showing a significant amount of transition in terms of markets represented on the list," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "This is consistent with NAHB's projections for a gradual but patchy recovery in which some month-to-month softening is likely, particularly in places where the measurable gains have been very small. The bottom line is that roughly one quarter of all U.S. metropolitan areas are showing signs that their housing markets have turned the corner, which is a very positive development."
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