The number of improving housing markets increased significantly in December, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
The NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index was up by 76 to a total of 201, while the number of states that had at least one metro represented in the index increased from 38 to 44. In order to be included, metros must have shown improvement in housing starts, employment and house prices for at least six straight months.
In December, 84 new metros were added to the list, including Atlanta, Ann Arbor, Michigan and Seattle, while eight were dropped from the index.
"This fourth consecutive month of expansion in the IMI, coupled with the fact that well over half of all metro areas are now represented on the list, is in keeping with the upward trends that we’ve been seeing all year in terms of housing starts and sales, builder confidence and other measures," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.
Continued improvements in the real estate market have helped fuel the economy. According to the UCLA Anderson Forecast, the housing market has become the leading source of strength for the economic recovery.