Markets in 58 out of the approximately 350 metro areas nationwide returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Markets Index (LMI). This reportedly represents a net gain of two from the previous month. The index’s nationwide score ticked up a percentage point to 0.87. This means that based on current permits, prices and employment data, the nationwide average is running at 87% of normal economic and housing activity.
“Housing markets across the nation are continuing their slow and steady climb back to normal levels,” said Rick Judson, NAHB chairman and a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “As employment and consumer confidence slowly improves, this is spurring pent-up demand among potential buyers.”
“Firming home prices are hastening the return of normal economic and housing activity in an increasing number of markets,” said David Crowe, NAHB chief economist. “The healthiest markets continue to be centered in smaller metros that boast strong local economies, particularly in the oil and gas producing states of Texas, North Dakota, Louisiana, and Wyoming.”
Baton Rouge, La., tops the list of major metros on the LMI, with a score of 1.41, or 41% better than its last normal market level. Other major metros at the top of the list include Honolulu, Oklahoma City, Austin and Houston, Texas, as well as Harrisburg, Pa., and Pittsburgh—all of whose LMI scores indicate that their market activity now exceeds previous norms.
Looking at smaller metros, both Odessa and Midland, Texas, boast LMI scores of 2.0 or better, meaning that their markets are now at double their strength prior to the recession. Also at the top of the list of smaller metros are Bismarck, N.D.; Casper, Wyo.; and Grand Forks, N.D., respectively.
For more information, visit www.nahb.org/lmi.