Wilmington makes national list of improved housing markets

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A group that tracks housing markets throughout the United States has added the Wilmington area to its list of those showing sustained improvement.

The full list is viewable at www.nahb.org/imi.

The National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) for February surfaced Wednesday with 259 metropolitan areas, including Wilmington, that have advanced for at least six consecutive months.

“It’s nice to see evidence that the local market is indeed stabilizing and gradually improving,” area developer and current Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association (WCFHBA) President Bert Exum said in a press release about the list.

WCFHBA Executive Director Donna Girardot added that making the IMI “is further proof that our market has finally turned the corner and our industry and region are coming back.”

Showing diversity, Rome, Ga., Fort Wayne, Ind., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Albuquerque, N.M. and Racine, Wis. were among other newly added metro areas on the February list.

Its authors said the IMI showed expansion for a sixth consecutive month and all 50 states now have at least one metropolitan area on it.

That “shows the housing recovery has substantial momentum and continues to expand from one market to the next,” said current National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman Rick Judson.

The IMI covers 361 metro areas. NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said about 70 percent were listed as improving this month.

“That’s a far cry from when we initiated this index with just 12 improving metros in September of 2011,” he said in the WCFHBA release Wednesday.

It explained the IMI measures three sets of independent monthly data: employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; house value appreciation from Freddie Mac; and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau.

To make the list, a metro area has to show improvement in all three areas for at least six consecutive months.

The index says Wilmington improved in permits by 3.8 percent since the end of July 2010; improved in housing prices 2.6 percent since the end of March 2012; and improved in employment 1.9 percent since the end of May 2012.

Wilmington was one of 10 North Carolina metros on the February list. The other nine were Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Goldsboro, Greensboro, Greenville, Hickory, Raleigh and Rocky Mount.

The full list is viewable at www.nahb.org/imi. For a state-by-state list of metro areas on the IMI, visit www.nahb.org/improvingmarkets.