May 15, 2012 (Jeff Alan)

The list of improving metropolitan areas fell by one market this month, dropping to 100, leaving the Index at almost the same level it has been at over the last three months according to the NAHB/First American Improving Market Index (IMI).

Utilizing data from almost 360 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), the index measures three independently collected or calculated indicators of improving economic health.

The three indicators are employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price growth from Freddie Mac and single family housing growth from the Census Bureau. Each MSA must see improvement in all three indicators for at least a six month period after their respective trough before being categorized as improving.

For this month, the 100 MSAs that met the criteria include:

Little Rock,AR Waterloo,IA Joplin,MO Erie,PA
Phoenix,AZ Boise City,ID Kansas City,MO Pittsburgh,PA
Boulder,CO Coeur d’Alene,ID St. Joseph,MO Reading,PA
Denver,CO Bloomington,IN Jackson,MS Williamsport,PA
Fort Collins,CO Elkhart,IN Burlington,NC Spartanburg,SC
New Haven,CT Evansville,IN Goldsboro,NC Chattanooga,TN
Washington,DC Indianapolis,IN Greensboro,NC Johnson City,TN
Cape Coral,FL Lafayette,IN Greenville,NC Kingsport,TN
Crestview,FL Bowling Green,KY Rocky Mount,NC Nashville,TN
Deltona,FL Lake Charles,LA Winston-Salem,NC Amarillo,TX
Jacksonville,FL Monroe,LA Bismarck,ND Brownsville,TX
North Port,FL Barnstable Town,MA Grand Forks,ND Laredo,TX
Orlando,FL Cumberland,MD Lincoln,NE Longview,TX
Panama City,FL Hagerstown,MD Ocean City,NJ Lubbock,TX
Pensacola,FL Lewiston,ME Buffalo,NY McAllen,TX
Punta Gorda,FL Ann Arbor,MI Glens Falls,NY Midland,TX
Tampa,FL Detroit,MI Poughkeepsie,NY Odessa,TX
Hinesville,GA Flint,MI Rochester,NY San Angelo,TX
Rome,GA Grand Rapids,MI Columbus,OH Tyler,TX
Warner Robins,GA Lansing,MI Springfield,OH Victoria,TX
Ames,IA Muskegon,MI Tulsa,OK St. George,UT
Des Moines,IA Niles,MI Bend,OR Harrisonburg,VA
Dubuque,IA Saginaw,MI Corvallis,OR Burlington,VT
Iowa City,IA Columbia,MO Portland,OR Huntington,WV
Sioux City,IA Jefferson City,MO Altoona,PA Casper,WY

There were 17 new MSAs added to the list this month while 18 were dropped. The 17 new metro areas added to the Index were Phoenix, AZ, Pensacola, FL, Hinesville, GA, Warner Robins, GA, Bloomington, IN, Bowling Green, KY, Barnstable Town, MA, Ann Arbor, MI, Niles, MI, St. Joseph, MO, Poughkeepsie, NY, Bend, OR, Reading, PA, Johnson City, TN, Lubbock, TX, San Angelo, TX, and Harrisonburg, VA.

Eighteen MSAs were dropped from the list in March, up from 11 in January, and include Fresno, CA, Merced, CA, Greeley, CO, Louisville, KY, Monroe, MI, Minneapolis, MN, Charlotte, NC, Fargo, ND, Utica, NY, Dayton, OH, Lancaster, PA, Charleston, SC, Sioux Falls, SD, College Station, TX, Dallas, TX, San Antonio, TX, Provo, UT, and Cheyenne, WY.

Barry Rutenberg, the Chairman of NAMB, stated, “The fact that there are 100 markets in 34 states and the District of Columbia represented on the improving list illustrates that all housing markets are local, and that the national headlines often don’t apply to what’s happening in a specific metropolitan area. In places where employment is firming up along with demand for new homes, the main factors weighing down the housing market continue to be access to credit (for both builders and buyers) and the difficulty of obtaining accurate appraisals on new construction.”

Tags: NAHB, First American, Improving Market Index, employment growth, house price growth, single family housing growth