List of Improving Housing Markets Expands to 242 in January

In the latest sign of a burgeoning recovery in U.S. housing
markets, the number of metropolitan areas on the National Association of Home
Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) rose for a fifth
consecutive month to 242 in January. This is up from 201 markets listed as
improving in December, and includes entrants from 48 states and the District of

The IMI identifies metro areas that have shown improvement
from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices
for at least six consecutive months. A total of 47 new metros were added to the
list and six were dropped from it this month. Newly added metros include such
geographically diverse locations as Los Angeles, Calif.; Auburn, Ala.; Des
Moines, Iowa; Nashville, Tenn.; Richmond, Va.; and Cleveland, Ohio.

created the improving markets list in September of 2011 to spotlight individual
metros where -- contrary to the national headlines -- housing markets were on
the mend,” notes NAHB Chairman Barry Rutenberg, a home builder from Gainesville,
Fla. “Today, 242 out of 361 metros nationwide appear on that list, including
representatives from almost every state in the country. The story is no longer
about exceptions to the rule, but about the growing breadth of the housing
recovery even as overly strict mortgage requirements hold back the pace of

“The IMI has almost doubled in the past two months as
stronger demand during prime home buying season boosted prices across a broader
number of metropolitan areas,” notes NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Similar
home price gains, and hence the IMI, may be tempered in the future as we see
data from typically slower months for home sales.”

“Potential home
buyers should be encouraged by the positive momentum in home prices, permitting
and employment that is increasingly evident in not just isolated housing
markets, but a broadening swath of the country,” adds Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice
chairman of First American Title Insurance Company.

The IMI is designed
to track housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of
improving economic health. The index measures three sets of independent monthly
data to get a mark on the top improving Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The
three indicators that are analyzed are employment growth from the Bureau of
Labor Statistics, housing price appreciation from Freddie Mac and single-family
housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. NAHB uses the latest
available data from these sources to generate a list of improving markets. A
metropolitan area must see improvement in all three measures for at least six
consecutive months following those measures’ respective troughs before being
included on the improving markets list.

A complete list of all 242
metropolitan areas currently on the IMI, and separate breakouts of metros newly
added to or dropped from the list in January, is available at A state-by-state listing of
metro areas on the list is also available at