The number of housing markets on included in the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index was essentially unchanged in May compared to April.  However there was significant turn-over of the names on the list.

The number of metropolitan areas designated as improving was 100 in May compared to 101 in April and, as in April, those cities represented 35 states.  However, 18 metropolitan areas fell off of the list, replaced by 17 new names.  Among the newly added cities are Phoenix, Bowling Green, Kentucky; Bend, Oregon; and Lubbock, Texas.

Improving markets are determined by a six month history of improvement from their respective troughs in the number of housing permits issued, employment statistics, and house prices.  The changes are measured according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Freddie Mac, and the U.S. Census Bureau.   Six months improvement in all three areas is required to make and remain on the list. 

"The overall number of markets on the IMI continued to plateau this month, with more than a quarter of all U.S. metros still showing signs of improvement," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "Many of these are relatively small markets in terms of their population and building volume, which is why their improvement is barely registering on the national scale as of yet. Moreover, we are seeing some shifting of markets on and off the list primarily due to small seasonal house price changes in areas that have had flat, stable prices rather than a boom-and-bust cycle."