If you've been keeping a list, then, just like Santa, you'd better check it twice–not for who's naughty or nice–but rather which real estate markets are improving. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), "the number of improving housing markets across the country rose to 99 in September."
The data comes from NAHB's First American Improving Markets Index (IMI), released just this month. The figure is up from last month when there were only 80 metro areas on the list. Over six consecutive months, the Index looks at three categories: housing permits, employment, and house prices, to see how much they have improved from previous dips. The most recent IMI shows metro areas from 33 states as well as the District of Columbia.
The growth spurt is, obviously, good news to Barry Rutenber, chairman of NAHB and a Gainesville, Florida home builder. "This solid growth is an encouraging sign that housing continues on a slow but steady recovery path that is gradually advancing from one local market to the next."
NAHB reported that the list grew, overall, by 19. Retaining their spots on the current list were 68 metro areas. An additional 31 new metros were added, while only 12 dropped off.
"More metros across the country are experiencing a sustained uptick in house prices, employment and new building activity as rising consumer confidence in local market conditions pushes more people to consider a new-home purchase," stated NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe in a news release. The downside, according to Crowe, is the "overly tight lending conditions" which are slowing the pace for both builders and buyers.
Still, the NAHB reports that this is a positive sign. The IMI nationally tracks housing markets that are showing signs of improving economic health. In order to get a ranking on the top improving Metropolitan Statistical Areas, the index measures three sets of independent monthly data. Indicators analyzed are from the following areas and sources: employment growth (Bureau of Labor Statistics), home price appreciation (Freddie Mac) and single-family housing permit growth (U.S. Census Bureau). For a Metropolitan area to rank on the IMI, NAHB requires data to confirm improvements in all three measures for a period of at least six months following those measures' respective lows.
On the most current IMI, there are diverse geographical locations including: Tucson, Arizona; Jacksonville, Florida; Springfield, Illinois; Greenville, North Carolina; and Bend, Oregon.
This report will likely be touted as an indication that the housing market is, indeed, rebounding. What does that mean for sellers? It could mean perfect timing. The end of the year is nearing and many sellers are hoping to close escrow before 2012 wraps up. Seeing metro areas across the country improving may be the fuel needed to accelerate the process for the once hesitant and wary buyer.
If your home is on the market, check the full list of 99 improving housing markets on NAHB.org. If your metro area is listed, capitalize on the good news and be sure to have print materials with the information available for your potential buyers.