Nationwide, economic and housing activity is running at an average of 87% its normal rate, according to the NAHB/First American Leading Markets Index. Nearly a third of the surveyed metro areas saw their scores rise in the last month, and 84% have seen improvement during the last year.
“Despite the cold weather that has constrained economic and housing activity across much of the nation this winter, markets are returning to normal levels,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly. “As the job and housing markets continue to mend and the onset of spring releases the pent-up demand for new homes, this will bode well for the remainder of 2014.”
Baton Rouge, La., saw the best levels of housing and economic activity among major metropolitan areas at 41% above its last normal market level. Other major metros at the top of the list include Honolulu, Oklahoma City, Austin and Houston, Texas, and Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Penn. In all cases, the metros’ housing and economic activity is now exceeding previous norms.
“The number of markets on this month’s LMI at or above 90 percent of previous norms has climbed to 130 – a positive trend to watch as the year progresses,” said Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Co., which co-sponsors the LMI report.
Markets in 59 metro areas have returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of housing and economic activity, a positive sign for the housing recovery, according to data released by the National Association of Home Builders.