A net total of 19 housing markets were added to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Market Index in September, bringing the total number of markets on the list to 99 compared to 80 last month.  Twelve cities that were on the list in August dropped away while 31 were added.

Inclusion in the Improving Markets Index (IMI) is achieved when a market has improved above its respective trough in three categories; the number of housing permits issued as measured by Census Bureau reports, employment according to the Department of Labor, and home price appreciation based on data from Freddie Mac.

New entries were dispersed across 21 states in all regions of the country.  There were multiple markets in Texas, Florida, Arizona, Iowa, Colorado, North Carolina and Washington joining the list.  Of the 12 cities that dropped from the list nine are located in the south with North Carolina and Georgia losing two and three spots respectively.  The index now includes markets in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

"More metros across the country are experiencing a sustained uptick in house prices, employment and new building activity as rising consumer confidence in local market conditions pushes more people to consider a new-home purchase," observed NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "That said, overly tight lending conditions for builders and buyers continue to slow this process considerably."

"Combined with recent positive reports on builder confidence, housing starts and new-home sales, the September IMI adds to the growing consensus that housing is finally moving in the right direction, which in turn is spurring more potential buyers to get off the fence," added Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman at First American Title Insurance Company.