1. “The number of improving housing markets across the country rose to 99 in September, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI), released this week. This is up from 80 metros that were listed as improving in August and includes representatives from 33 states as well as the District of Columbia. The IMI identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months.”
Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. said, “This solid growth is an encouraging sign that housing continues on a slow but steady recovery path that is gradually advancing from one local market to the next.”
“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.
“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.
2. “Des Moines area home sales spiked 27% in August over a year earlier and climbed nearly 11% over July, a report from the Des Moines Association of Realtors today shows. The average sale price pushed 3.3% higher to $172,839 in August over a year earlier. Pending sales climbed 13.1% to 897 in August over a year ago. In August, homes were on the market an average of 98 days, 14 days fewer than 112 days in August 2011. Homes were on the market five days fewer than in July.”
3. The S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB) tracks the “S&P Homebuilders Select Industry Index” and includes holdings of Pulte Homes, Standard Pacific, Toll Brothers, MDC Holdings, USG and other homebuilders, construction companies, and companies that supply products to homebuilders or home buyers. The XHB closed today at 24.87, the highest level since August 2007 more than five years ago. Over the last year the XHB is up by 74%, or more than three times the 23.3% increase in the S&P 500 Index.