Although activity in many real estate markets across the U.S. is relativly flat, the National Association of Home Builders has announced that there continues to be a number of improving local markets.
The industry group's Improving Markets Index identifies metropolitan areas that have stabilizing and growing housing markets. The February report indicated that the list has increased by 29 metro areas and now includes 98 local markets from 39 states.
The NAHB compiles the index by examining property data, such as housing permits, employment rates and house prices. If a market shows improvement in these three key areas for six consecutive months, they are added to the list.
"The number of improving housing markets has risen for six consecutive months, and 36 states now have at least one metropolitan area on the list," said NAHB chairman Bob Nielsen. "This indicates that despite the many challenges that continue to drag on a housing recovery - including the tight lending environment for builders and buyers - improving conditions are slowly but surely spreading from one housing market to the next."
According to the report, some of the most notable new entrants to the list in February include Miami, Boston, Detroit, Kansas City, Portland, Memphis and Salt Lake City.
Meanwhile, the report also indicated that a number of metro areas were dropped from the list after recording declines in their local housing markets. These areas include, San Jose, Washington, D.C. and New Orleans.
"While many of the markets on the February IMI are far from fully recovered, the index points out where employment, home prices and housing production are no longer retreating and have held above their lowest recession troughs for six months or more," said NAHB chief economist David Crowe. "This is a sign that a large cross section of the country is starting to turn the corner as local economic conditions stabilize."
Additionally, Kurt Pfotenhauer, vie chairman of First American Title Insurance Company, noted that the list nearly growing to 100 metro areas is a promising sign that momentum is building toward housing market recovery. He added, the improvements could prompt more homebuyers who have been waiting on the sidelines to make their move to purchase homes will mortgage rates are low and home prices are affordable.