U.S. housing market continues to recover

In the latest sign of a burgeoning recovery in U.S. housing markets, the number of metropolitan areas on the National Association of Home Builders / First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) rose for a fifth consecutive month to 242 in January.

This is up from 201 markets listed as improving in December, and includes entrants from 48 states and the District of Columbia.

The list includes the Youngstown market, which was added to the list in March and remains among 10 Ohio cities. Lima is the only Ohio city to be dropped from the list this month.

The IMI identifies metro areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months.

“We created the improving markets list in September of 2011 to spotlight individual metros where – contrary to the national headlines – housing markets were on the mend,” noted NAHB Chairman Barry Rutenberg, a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. “Today, 242 out of 361 metros nationwide appear on that list, including representatives from almost every state in the country. The story is no longer about exceptions to the rule, but about the growing breadth of the housing recovery even as overly strict mortgage requirements hold back the pace of improvement.”

“Potential home buyers should be encouraged by the positive momentum in home prices, permitting and employment that is increasingly evident in not just isolated housing markets, but a broadening swath of the country,” said Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Co.