NAHB’s IMI Continues its Spectacular Growth

by Houston Agent

The NAHB debuted the IMI in September, and in each subsequent month, the index has improved.

The National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index added 29 more metropolitan areas to its ever-expanding Improving Markets Index (IMI), a specially-crafted survey of the nation’s best-performing urban areas.

Now representing 36 states, the IMI has grown exponentially since its launch in September, with each release spotlighting more and more signs of an economic – and housing – recovery.

New entrants to the IMI included Boston, Detroit, Kansas City, Portland, Memphis, Salt Lake City and Miami, the latter city perhaps the most telling case of optimistic growth. Swamped with distressed homes, Miami’s market was on a free fall after the market crash in 2008, but, with a wave of foreign investment propping up the city’s housing sector, its economic prospects have been more than positive as of late.

NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen said that it has been nothing but good news since the IMI launched.

“The number of improving housing markets has risen for six consecutive months, and 36 states now have at least one metropolitan area on the list,” Nielsen said. “This indicates that despite the many challenges that continue to drag on a housing recovery … improving conditions are slowly but surely spreading from one housing market to the next.”

Kurt Pfotenhauer, the vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company, said the sheer size of the index is proof enough of a market turnaround.

“The fact that there are nearly 100 markets now on the improving list shows that the momentum is building for a housing recovery and that more buyers and sellers are starting to feel confident enough to return to the market,” he said.

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.

David Crowe, the NAHB’s chief economist, said that though some markets are still hurting, others are clearly on the mend.

“While many of the markets on the February IMI are far from fully recovered, the index points out where employment, home prices and housing production are no longer retreating and have held above their lowest recession troughs for six months or more,” Crowe said. “This is a sign that a large cross section of the country is starting to turn the corner as local economic conditions stabilize.”

A complete list of all 98 metropolitan areas currently on the IMI can be viewed here: www.nahb.org/imi.

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