The list of housing markets that show improvement, as measured by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), expanded from 98 to 99 metro regions between February and March 2012.
The NAHB/First American Improving Markets 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. The 99 markets on the March index represent a net gain of one from February, with 31 metros being added and 30 markets slipping from the list, due primarily to incremental softening in house prices. Notable new entrants in March include Orlando, Fla.; Rochester, N.Y.; Columbus, Ohio; and Austin and San Antonio, Texas. Meanwhile, Anchorage; Iowa City; Washington, D.C.; and Jackson, Miss., all returned to the list as a result of recent revisions in their employment data.
Texas led the pack with 12 entries. Currently 33 states (including the District of Columbia) are represented by at least one market.
"After five consecutive months of solid gains, the March [index] held virtually flat this month at just under 100 metros, while showing a significant amount of transition in terms of markets represented on the list," said NAHB chief economist David Crowe. "This is consistent with NAHB's projections for a gradual but patchy recovery in which some month-to-month softening is likely, particularly in places where the measurable gains have been very small. The bottom line is that roughly one quarter of all U.S. metropolitan areas are showing signs that their housing markets have turned the corner, which is a very positive development."