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May 8th, 2014

NAHB: Housing markets continue slow, steady recovery



rising housing costsHousing markets in U.S. cities are well into a slow, yet steady recovery, according to the latest monthly index tracked by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a trade group in Washington, D.C.

This month, 300 of the 351 metro markets that were measured showed year-over-year economic gains, and 59 of the metros matched or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity, the NAHB stated.

Nationwide, the economic score rose slightly to  .88 in May from a revised reading of .87 in April. This figure means the nationwide average of economic and housing activity is 88 percent of normal, based on current data. A year ago, this overall reading was .82.

The index aims to identify housing markets that either approach or exceed their previous normal levels of economic and housing activity. The model includes employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation data from Freddie Mac and detached housing permits from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Slow start, pent-up demand

In a statement, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said the index showed the recovery was slow but steady.

“The year started a bit slower than anyone could have anticipated,” Crowe said, “but we still expect housing to play a greater role in aiding the overall economic recovery. The job market continues to mend, and that should spur a steady release of pent-up demand among home buyers.”

Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Co., which co-sponsors the index, said the report might mean the economy has shifted into a higher gear.

Top-performing metro markets

Among major metros, Baton Rouge, La., achieved the strongest score of 1.41, or 41 percent higher than its last normal market level. Other major metros whose scores indicate that market activity exceeded previous norms included:

  • Honolulu
  • Oklahoma City
  • Austin, Texas
  • Houston, Texas
  • Los Angeles
  • San Jose, California
  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Some smaller metros experiencing an energy boom achieved even higher numbers. Top of the list were:

  • Odessa, Texas
  • Midland, Texas
  • Bismarck, North Dakota
  • Casper, Wyoming
  • Grand Forks, North Dakota

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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