Zombie Nation: Which Real Estate Markets Are Rising from the Dead?

The market is rebounding and the economy is strengthening; that's how it would appear from the number of improving housing markets in June, which rose by five to a total of 263, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI), designed to track housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of economic improvement.

In June, 29 new markets were added to the list. New additions included:

• Tallahassee, Fla.
• Salinas, Calif.
• Sioux City, Iowa
• Chicago, Ill.
• Topeka, Kan.
• Baton Rouge, La.
• Laredo, Texas; and
• Philadelphia, Pa.

“This is the fifth consecutive month in which the IMI has designated more than 70 percent of U.S. metros as improving,” observes NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “While that’s a good sign that the housing recovery is on solid footing, we know that various challenges are slowing its progress – including continuing issues with credit availability for builders and buyers, as well as appraisals that aren’t keeping up with the rising cost of construction.”

“The continued strength of the IMI is an indicator of the ongoing, positive momentum in housing markets nationwide as consumers move to take advantage of historically favorable interest rates and affordable home prices,” adds Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company.

The addition of Tallahassee brings the number of improving markets up to 18 in Florida alone. “Northeast Florida has seen steady improvement in the real estate market for the last two years and as a result, we have achieved modest price increases between 3-5 percent in most areas,” says Florida real estate broker and Executive Vice President Christy Budnick. “We believe that price appreciation is sustainable, particularly when coupled with the lowest unemployment in the state and the fact that a vast majority of buyers in our area are purchasing primary residences versus a market that has a large investor population.”

She continued: “An additional factor that has begun and will continue to play a larger role in the market recovery is the fact that enough time has passed to repair the credit many of the people who were in the first wave of short sales and foreclosures and from all of the data we have seen a large number of those people wish to own a home again in the future.”

To see a complete list of all 263 metros currently on the IMI, visit www.nahb.org/imi.

Associate Editor Zoe Eisenberg contributed to this report. RISMEDIA

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.