All fifty states and the District of Columbia are now represented on the Improving Markets Index (IMI) that was released today by National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and First American Title Insurance.  The February IMI expanded to a total of 259 metropolitan areas with the addition of 20 cities to the list

The new cities represented 15 states with five of those states, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, and Texas adding two metropolitan areas each.  Among the new additions were Racine, New York, El Paso, Albuquerque, and Topeka. Three areas, Champaign, Illinois; Lebanon, Pennsylvania; and Amarillo, Texas dropped from the list in February.

Improving markets are defined as those that have posted six straight months of improvement from their respective troughs on each of three economic measures; home prices provided by Freddie Mac, employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and construction activity as measured by data on building permits from the Census Bureau.    

NAHB and First American began compiling their list of improving markets in September 2011.  The number of markets, which was fairly static for the first half of 2012 has since risen rapidly, increasing from 80 cities to 259 in six months.

"The fact that all 50 states now have at least one metro on the improving list shows that the housing recovery has substantial momentum and continues to expand from one market to the next," said 2013 NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. "Of course, there is still much room for improvement in metros that have not yet been listed as well as those that have, and we know that a key factor slowing this progress is today's overly stringent mortgage standards that are keeping qualified buyers on the sidelines."

"Just over 70 percent of the 361 metros covered by the IMI are listed as improving this month," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "That's a far cry from when we initiated this index with just 12 improving metros in September of 2011 for the purpose of highlighting places that didn't fit the mold of the national headlines. Today, the story is about how widespread the recovery has become as conditions steadily improve in markets nationwide."