There's lots of good news regarding U.S. real estate these days, with housing starts up 0.8 percent compared to February and business permits reaching the highest rate since June 2008. Additionally, according to a March 21 report from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the list of improving markets has expanded to 274, marking the seventh consecutive month of improvement.
The NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) measures growth in housing permits, employment and home prices, and any city that excels in these areas for six months in a row makes it on the list. In March, 34 new metros were added, including Birmingham, Alabama; Santa Barbara, California; Colorado Springs, Colorado and Bloomington, Indiana.
It's worth noting that this is the second consecutive month that at least one city from every state showed improvement, though experts from the NAHB warn that there are still challenges to overcome.
"With just over 75 percent of the 361 metros covered by the IMI now seen as improving, the housing market is on considerably more solid footing than it was at this time last year," NAHB chief economist David Crowe said in the company's press statement. "While we expect this positive momentum to continue, it's important to understand that many markets are just beginning the recovery process, and that numerous issues – from credit availability to the rising cost of building materials and emerging lot shortages – are slowing the pace of that advancement."
As the housing market continues to improve and spring – one of the busiest times of the year for the industry – approaches, there is a good chance that more people will begin buying and selling homes. It's important, as always, for lenders to ensure that borrowers can stay on top of their monthly payments, and they can do so by investing in loan management software.