Washington, D.C.—A total of 291 metropolitan areas across the country now qualify as improving housing markets, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) for September, released today. This reflects a gain of 44 markets from August and marks the index’s highest level since it was initiated two years ago.
The IMI identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. In September, 242 housing markets retained their existing positions on the IMI while 49 new markets were added and five were dropped from the list. Recent additions include such geographically diverse locations as Macon, Ga.; St. Cloud, Minn.; Brownsville, Texas; Spokane, Wash.; and Milwaukee.
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 Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The three indicators that are analyzed are employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house 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 metro 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 291 metros currently on the IMI, and separate breakouts of metros newly added to or dropped from the list in September, is available at www.nahb.org/imi.