Pleasanton Weekly

Real Estate - November 11, 2011

Smaller cities leading way in improved housing markets

Home builders' survey shows tough conditions continue across much of country

by Jeb Bing

The number of improving housing markets continued to expand for a third consecutive month going into November, rising from 23 to 30 on the latest National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index.

The list dropped two metros and added nine new ones: Cheyenne, Wyo.; Corpus Christi, Tex.; Davenport, Iowa; Fort Collins, Colo.; Hinesville, Ga.; Lima, Ohio; Monroe, La.; Tyler, Tex.; and Williamsport, Pa.

The index identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement for at least six months in housing permits, employment and housing prices.

The following metros were listed in November: Alexandria, La.; Amarillo, Tex.; Anchorage, Alaska; Bismarck, N.D.; Casper and Cheyenne, Wyo.; Corpus Christi, Tex.; Davenport, Iowa; Fairbanks, Alaska; Fayetteville, N.C.; Fort Collins, Colo.; and Hinesville, Ga.

Others listed include: Houma, La.; Jonesboro, Ark.; Kankakee, Ill.; Lima, Ohio; McAllen and Midland, Tex.; Monroe, La.; New Orleans; Odessa, Tex.; Pine Bluff, Ark.; Pittsburgh, Pa., and Sherman, Tex.

Also listed were Sumter, S.C.; Tyler and Waco, Tex.; Waterloo, Iowa; Williamsport, Pa.; and Winston-Salem, N.C.

"Texas continues to dominate the list of improving housing markets in November, increasing its net number of entries to eight and continuing a trend in which energy-producing metros seem to be doing better than the average," said Homebuilders Association Chairman Bob Nielsen, a home builder from Reno, Nev.

"Meanwhile, the geographic diversity of metros also continued to expand this month, with the states of Colorado, Georgia and Ohio all represented for the first time," he added. "This is further evidence that all housing markets are uniquely dependent upon local conditions, and some are leading the way toward an eventual, broader recovery."

NAHB's Chief Economist David Crowe added: "The November IMI remains heavily weighted by smaller cities, with Pittsburgh and New Orleans as the only major metros represented. This is indicative of the tough conditions that continue to prevail across much of the country, particularly in larger markets that have been hit hardest by job losses and foreclosures during the recession and that will take more time to heal."

"However," he added, "momentum is building in pockets of the country where energy and agriculture are the dominant industries and where consistent, measurable improvements in economic conditions are now becoming apparent."

The two metros that dropped off of the improving markets list in November were Iowa City and Wichita Falls. These metros experienced declines in their employment and new housing permit data, respectively.

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