Of the approximately 350 metro markets nationwide, 56 returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/First American Leading Markets Index (LMI), released on June 5. This represents a net gain of nine metros year over year.
The NAHB Leading Markets Index’s nationwide score of .88 held steady from the previous month. This means that based on current permit, price and employment data, the nationwide average is running at 88% of normal economic and housing activity. Meanwhile, 30% of metro areas saw their score rise this month and 83% have shown an improvement over the past year.
“Markets are gradually returning to normal levels of housing and economic activity,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. “When we see more sustainable levels of job growth, this will unleash pent-up demand and bring more buyers into the marketplace.”
Baton Rouge, La., continues to top the list of major metros on the LMI, with a score of 1.4 — or 40% better than its last normal market level. Other major metros at the top of the list include Honolulu; Oklahoma City; Austin, Texas and Houston. Rounding out the NAHB Top 10 are Los Angeles; San Jose, Calif.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City – all of whose LMI scores indicate that their market activity now equals or exceeds previous norms.
Looking at smaller metros, both Odessa and Midland, Texas, boast LMI scores of 2.0 or better, meaning their markets are now at double their strength prior to the recession. Also at the top of the list of smaller metros are Bismarck, N.D.; Casper, Wyo.; and Grand Forks, N.D., respectively. At least eight of the NAHB Top 10 metros are in oil and gas areas.