Housing permits, house prices, and employment are benchmark elements the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and First American Title uses in the NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI). In January, the list of improving markets jumped substantially to 242 from 201 in December. There are 361 metro areas nationwide.

New additions to the NAHB IMI in January include:
• Wisconsin – Milwaukee & Madison
• Iowa – Des Moines
• Illinois – Chicago, Champaign
• Maine – Bangor
• Massachusetts – Boston
• Vermont – Burlington
• New Hampshire – Manchester

The list was created in 2011 to spotlight individual metro areas where housing markets were showing signs of improving economic health. The most recent list includes representatives from almost every state in the country. A metropolitan area must see improvement in all three measures (employment, housing prices, and housing permits) for at least six consecutive months following those measures’ respective troughs before being included on the improving markets list.

The monthly reported number of metro areas listed on the IMI since May 2012:
• January – 242
• December – 201
• November – 125
• October – 103
• September – 99
• August – 80
• July – 84
• June – 80
• May – 100

According to the Eye on Housing blog, author David Crowe said, “House prices have been the make-or-break component in the three measures of the IMI. Increases in the national house prices indexes are the result of a wide array of individual markets experiencing house price increases. Hence, the IMI reflects that improvement and more metros are added to the list of improving.”

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