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An index by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) designed to track improving housing markets across the country has shifted again, with 13 metros being added and 11 markets slipping from the list, for a net gain of two markets in April. The NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) now includes 101 metropolitan areas. Thirty-five states (including the District of Columbia) are represented by at least one market on the list.
The IMI 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. Among the new entrants are Rome, Ga.; Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; Greenville, N.C.; Brownsville, Texas; St. George, Utah; and Huntington, W.Va.
"After five consecutive months of gains, the IMI recently began to plateau, with many markets holding steady and a few experiencing the ups and downs that are typical in a choppy recovery," observed NAHB chief economist David Crowe. "The IMI is designed to highlight markets that are showing consistent improvement, and those markets that have registered the smallest gains are more susceptible to dropping off the list due to a minor setback in prices, permits or employment," he explained. At the same time, "as stronger markets approach stability, it will get harder for them to keep charting improvement, which will also limit the expansion of the IMI," Crowe added.