The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) added 40 new metro areas to its Improving Markets Index (IMI) in its latest release yesterday, bringing to total number of cities to 76 across 31 states.
Designed to track housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of improving economic health, the index measures 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 in its assessments.
To qualify for the IMI, the areas must show growth in all three areas for at least six months.
The latest entries to the list included Denver, Colo., New Haven, Conn., Cape Coral, Fla., Jacksonville Fla., Des Moines, Iowa, Philadelphia, Pa., Dallas, Texas and Madison, Wis. (a full history of the chart can be viewed here).
Bob Nielsen, the NAHB chairman, said the index’s major growth (it featured 31 cities in December) is evidence of a new economic trend.
“The fact that the list of improving housing markets nearly doubled this month shows that a significant, positive trend is developing, and is even more relevant when you consider the expanding geographic distribution of the list – which now includes 31 states and the District of Columbia,” Nielsen said.
David Crowe, the chief economist for the NAHB, said the inclusion of larger metro areas in this month’s list was also a positive sign.
“While relatively small metropolitan areas continue to dominate the list of improving housing markets, it’s important to note that several major metros in diverse parts of the country have now joined the field as well – including such metros as Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Nashville and Philadelphia,” Crowe said. “This is an encouraging sign that gradually strengthening economic conditions are starting to take hold across a broader swath of America.”
Only five metropolitan areas – Anchorage, Alaska, Fort Wayne, Ind., Canton, Ohio, Scranton, Pa. and Charleston, W.Va. – were dropped from the list.