April 11, 2012 (Jeff Alan)

The list of improving metropolitan areas grew by two markets this month, surpassing the century mark for the first time 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 101 MSAs that met the criteria include:

Little Rock,AR Coeur d’Alene,ID Charlotte,NC Williamsport,PA
Fresno,CA Elkhart,IN Goldsboro,NC Charleston,SC
Merced,CA Evansville,IN Greensboro,NC Spartanburg,SC
Boulder,CO Indianapolis,IN Greenville,NC Sioux Falls,SD
Denver,CO Lafayette,IN Rocky Mount,NC Chattanooga,TN
Fort Collins,CO Louisville,KY Winston-Salem,NC Kingsport,TN
Greeley,CO Lake Charles,LA Bismarck,ND Nashville,TN
New Haven,CT Monroe,LA Fargo,ND Amarillo,TX
Washington,DC Cumberland,MD Grand Forks,ND Brownsville,TX
Cape Coral,FL Hagerstown,MD Lincoln,NE College Station,TX
Crestview,FL Lewiston,ME Ocean City,NJ Dallas,TX
Deltona,FL Detroit,MI Buffalo,NY Laredo,TX
Jacksonville,FL Flint,MI Glens Falls,NY Longview,TX
North Port,FL Grand Rapids,MI Rochester,NY McAllen,TX
Orlando,FL Lansing,MI Utica,NY Midland,TX
Panama City,FL Monroe,MI Columbus,OH Odessa,TX
Punta Gorda,FL Muskegon,MI Dayton,OH San Antonio,TX
Tampa,FL Saginaw,MI Springfield,OH Tyler,TX
Rome,GA Minneapolis,MN Tulsa,OK Victoria,TX
Ames,IA Columbia,MO Corvallis,OR Provo,UT
Des Moines,IA Jefferson City,MO Portland,OR St. George,UT
Dubuque,IA Joplin,MO Altoona,PA Burlington,VT
Iowa City,IA Kansas City,MO Erie,PA Huntington,WV
Sioux City,IA Jackson,MS Lancaster,PA Casper,WY
Waterloo,IA Burlington,NC Pittsburgh,PA Cheyenne,WY

There were 13 new MSAs added to the list this month while 11 were dropped. The 13 new metro areas added to the Index were Fresno, CA, Rome, GA, Sioux City, IA, Boise, ID, Coeur d’ Alene, ID, Hagerstown, MD, Greenville, NC, Buffalo, NY, Utica, NY, Lancaster, PA, Brownsville, TX, St. George, UT, and Huntington, WV.

Eleven MSAs were dropped from the list in March, down from 30 in January, and include Anchorage, AL, Bakersfield, CA, Muncie, IN, Shreveport, LA, Holland, MI, Springfield, MO, Hattiesburg, MS, Syracuse, NY, Clarksville, TN, Austin, TX and Salt Lake City, UT.

Barry Rutenberg, the Chairman of NAMB, stated, “While housing markets across the country continue to struggle under the weight of overly tight lending conditions and other challenges, the April IMI indicates that at least 101 individual metros are showing measurable and consistent signs that they are headed in the right direction. A total of 35 states are now represented on the list, with 10 states having four or more entries. This positive news is in line with what our builder members have observed regarding firming conditions and improved buyer interest in certain locations.”

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