Consumers and builders alike will likely have more confidence in the housing market, as the number of places posting notable improvements increased in December. The National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index grew to include 201 markets who saw better housing permits, home prices and job employment over the last six months.
Now, 44 states including the District of Columbia are represented on the index, up from 38 recorded in November. The organization notes that 85 new metros were added to the list, while just eight were taken off. Some areas that were added came along way from the housing market slump, including Atlanta, which previously suffered from hindered home prices thanks largely in part to to a notably large inventory of delinquent properties. Foreclosures and short sales are frequently offered to buyers at a deeply discounted price, though home prices nationwide have been on the rise with less underwater properties listed for sale throughout the second half of the year.
Other metros that made it to the list include Green Bay, Seattle, Ann Arbor and Bloomington, indicating that most regions of the country are now included in the IMI. Economic factors have likely helped improve local economies nationwide, resulting in more sales, rising prices and consumer confidence. One thing that could be preventing additional markets from making the list of recovering markets is strict lending standards set in place to prevent another housing market slump, though many well-qualified applicants are still having trouble getting approved for financing.
"The big gain in improving markets this December indicates that key measure of housing and economic strength have now been holding steady or improving in metros across the country for six months or more which is an important signal of stability amidst the slowly emerging recovery," said Barry Rutenberg, chairman for NAHB.
While affordability remains in the market, being offered by record-low mortgage rates seen throughout November, consumers may be on the fence about making the investment after witnessing the surge in foreclosures in previous years. However, buying in a healthy and strengthening market is beneficial for both buyers and sellers, and the report of more improving housing markets will likely help ease consumer concerns.