March 16, 2012 (Jeff Alan)

After five months of solid gains, the NAHB/First American Improving Market Index (IMI) remained virtually flat in March with a net gain of just one metropolitan area reflecting a sign that improved economic conditions are resulting in a more stable housing market.

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 99 MSAs that met the criteria include:

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

There were 31 new MSAs added to the list this month while 30 were dropped. The 31 new metro areas added to the Index were Anchorage, AK, Little Rock, AR, Bakersfield, CA, Merced, CA, Washington, DC, Crestview, FL, Orlando, FL, Panama City, FL, Iowa City, IA,, Evansville, IN, Louisville, KY, Flint, MI , Holland, MI, Saginaw, MI , Springfield, MO, Jackson, MS, Burlington, NC, Charlotte, NC, Goldsboro, NC, Greensboro, NC, Rocky Mount, NC, Glens Falls, NY, Rochester, NY, Columbus, OH, Dayton, OH, Altoona, PA, Charleston, SC, Spartanburg, SC, Sioux Falls, SD, Austin, TX, San Antonio, TX.

Thirty MSAs were dropped from the list in March, up from seven in January, and include Florence, AL, Tuscaloosa ,AL, Fayetteville, AR, Napa, CA, Bridgeport, CT, Miami, FL, Athens, GA, Augusta, GA, Honolulu, HI, Davenport, IA, Boston, MA, Springfield, MA, Ann Arbor, MI, Duluth, MN, Rochester, MN, Fayetteville, NC, Omaha, NE, Manchester, NH, Cincinnati, OH, Toledo, OH, Youngstown, OH, Oklahoma City, OK, Philadelphia, PA, Memphis, TN, College Station, TX, Danville, VA, Winchester, VA, Bellingham, WA, Kennewick, WA, Madison, WI.

Barry Rutenberg, the Chairman of NAMB, stated, “In March, 68 metros retained their status as improving housing markets, while 31 new markets joined the list and 33 states had at least one entry on it. Meanwhile, 10 states now have four or more metros on the improving markets list, with Texas’s 12 entries topping all others. The point is that economic conditions have been consistently strengthening in a diverse array of individual markets nationwide.”

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