The February edition of the new Multi-Indicator Market Index (MiMi) introduced by Freddie Mac last month indicates that the U.S. housing market overall is recovering at a slightly slower pace than it was in January.  Nonetheless, the report shows that more than half of both the states and the top 50 metropolitan areas are still improving. 

MiMi uses proprietary Freddie Mac data and information on local markets to assess where each market currently is in relation to its own long-term stable range for home purchase applications, payment-to-income ratios (which allows measurement of changes in home purchasing power), proportion of on-time mortgage payments, and the local employment picture. And that's the catch: an index that ostensibly speaks to "the housing market" is currently drawing strength from employment and delinquency rates as opposed to more focused housing metrics like applications and sales.

In February the national MiMi was -3.11 points which indicates a weak housing market overall and was 0.03 points below the January MiMi.  However, the number was 0.67 point higher than in February 2013 and the 3-month trend was +0.12 showing an improving housing market.  The all-time low MiMi was -4.49 in November 2010 when the housing market was at its weakest. 

Eleven states and the District of Columbia were in their stable range of housing activity, the same number as in January and up from seven plus the District one year ago.  Four metro areas, three of them in Texas, are considered stable and in range where no areas were considered so in February 2013.   Among the states performing the best are North Dakota, Wyoming, DC, Alaska, and Louisiana.

Twenty-eight states and the District are considered to be improving based on their three-month trend as are 27 of the 50 metro areas.  The most improved states were South Carolina, Louisiana, and Ohio while the most improving metro areas include Charlotte, Columbus, and Nashville.   Kansas City, St. Louis, and Minneapolis lost ground in their three-month trend after declines in purchase application activity and local employment data.

Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said, "Despite a slowdown over the winter months, the housing market continues to show improvement in most states, although at a somewhat slower pace. And while not all the MiMi indicators are trending in a better direction -- in particular, home-purchase applications have weakened in many areas -- gains in local employment and loan performance have really helped many markets across the country, especially those that were hardest hit.  Outside of these areas we are also seeing positive improvement from the Carolinas and Tennessee as their local unemployment rates fall further."