Housing markets index shows improvement, reversing trend

After dropping by four markets last month, the list of U.S. housing markets that showed measurable and sustained improvement grew by 19 markets in September 2012, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI). The total number was 99, up from 80 metros that were listed as improving in August. The list includes representatives from 33 states as well as the District of Columbia.

The index identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. Markets added to the list in September include such geographically diverse locations as Tucson, Ariz.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Springfield, Ill.; Greenville, N.C.; and Bend, Ore.

The final tally -- 99 -- included 31 new metros, 68 markets that retained their spots, 12 that dropped off the list. 

"Combined with recent positive reports on builder confidence, housing starts and new-home sales, the September IMI adds to the growing consensus that housing is finally moving in the right direction, which in turn is spurring more potential buyers to get off the fence," said Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman at First American Title Insurance Co.

A complete list of all 99 metropolitan areas currently on the IMI, and separate breakouts of metros newly added to or dropped from the list in September, is available at nahb.org/imi. 

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