The NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) took a big jump in November with 125 cities making the list. That number is 22 higher than October’s total. The IMI expanded geographically as well, with an increase from 33 to 38 states plus the District of Columbia. Several of the newly included metropolitan areas are found in California, signifying that the struggling markets throughout that state might be seeing more relief in the near future. Other new additions represent a wide range of locations and densities, including Charlotte, N.C.; Dayton, Ohio; Gainesville, Ga.; Omaha, Neb.; New Orleans; and Lewiston, Idaho.
The IMI judges which metropolitan areas are experiencing sustained healthy market conditions based on employment growth, housing price appreciation, and single-family permit growth statistics gathered from independent agencies. If all three of these indicators remain healthy for six months or more within a metropolitan area, then that city is added to the list. The IMI has shown steady growth for three consecutive months, which NAHB chief economist David Crowe believes demonstrates a positive overall turnaround for housing. “The solid increase in the number of improving housing markets this month,” he states in the NAHB’s report, “illustrates the degree to which the housing recovery has gained momentum since we initiated the IMI last year.”