“The markets are continuing to make gains,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo. “A strengthening economy and low interest rates should spur the release of pent-up demand and keep housing moving forward this year.”
Baton Rouge, La., continues to top the list of major metros on the LMI, with a score of 1.43 – or 43 percent better than its last normal market level. Other major metros leading the pack include Austin, Texas; Honolulu; Houston; and Oklahoma City. Rounding out the top 10 are San Jose, Calif.; Los Angeles; Salt Lake City; Charleston, S.C.; and Nashville, Tenn.
“The strongest gain is employment, where the number of metros that reached or surpassed their norms nearly doubled in a year,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Despite a minor uptick in single-family permits, only 7 percent of the markets are at or above their normal permit activity.”
“The number of markets on this quarter’s Leading Markets Index at or above 90 percent of previous normal levels has reached 157 – a sign that the recovery is spreading to a wide range of markets,” said Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company, which co-sponsors the LMI report.
Looking at smaller metros, both Midland and Odessa, Texas, have LMI scores of 2.0 or better, meaning their markets are now at double their strength prior to the recession. Also leading the list of smaller metros are Manhattan, Kan.; Grand Forks, N.D; and Casper, Wyo., respectively.