Data released today indicates that the number of improving housing markets nearly doubled in January, providing the latest evidence of a real estate turnaround.
Seventy-six markets are now on the upswing, according to the Improving Markets Index, a monthly release prepared by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the First American Financial Corporation. That represents an increase of 35 markets from the December release, which listed 41 markets as improving. The index classifies a market as improving if it posts an increase in jobs, home prices and single-family housing permits for at least six months.
"The substantial gain in the number of improving housing markets in January shows that more consumers are looking favorably at a home purchase in light of today's historically low interest rates and attractive prices," said Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company. The average rate of a 30-year-fixed mortgage dropped to match the lowest on record last week, with Freddie Mac putting the number at 3.91 percent.
Most of the cities that joined the list are relatively small metropolitan areas, NAHB chief economist David Crowe notes. But a few major cities, including Dallas, Denver and Philadelphia, also made the cut.
Beyond just the general increase in the number of improving markets, the data is also encouraging because of the wide geographical distribution of the recuperating cities, NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen said. The generous spread of improving cities suggests that a possible recovery is not concentrated only in certain pockets of the country.
The National Association of Home Builders, which prepares the index with The First American Financial Corporation, is a trade group that represents more than 160,000 members involved in home building. The First American Financial Corporation provides title insurance and settlements services to the real estate and mortgage industries.
Best Cities to Buy Real Estate in 2012
Improving Housing Markets Nearly Double, New Data Says
After bidding farewell to 2011, Realtors, investors and regulators the world over are no doubt wondering: Will 2012 be the year the real estate market finally rides out the aftershocks of the housing bust and mounts a full-on recovery?
But even if home prices don't trend up nationwide, certain markets seem almost guaranteed to do well. Looking at a variety of sources, AOL Real Estate brings you 10 of this year's most promising housing markets for 2012.
Tech companies are driving job growth in Worcester, according to MSN Real Estate. That may help real estate prices, which slipped 3 percent this past year, but are expected to tick up 2 percent in 2013.
Spanning a generous 2,730 square feet, this alternatively colored home was built in 1987 and is equipped with its very own "game room," according to the listing.
Kansas seems to have fared better than most through the real estate storm. Another one of the state's major cities, Topeka is predicted to post the second-highest increase in real estate prices, according to Realtor magazine.
Here is a sprawling home in Topeka, one of the ritzier houses in town. The $429,000 home offers five bedrooms and 4,782 total square feet.
On the hunt for new digs in a market that's turned the corner of the housing slump? Look no further than Huntington, W.Va. HousingPredictor expects the town's real estate prices to climb by 4 percent this year.
A tip of the hat to DailyFinancefor directing us to Tacoma, Wash., a city whose real estate prices are set to skyrocket, according to a Fiserv prediction. The financial services information provider projects that prices in Tacoma will jump a staggering 24.9 percent.
Located in University Place, a suburb just outside of Tacoma, this listing offers a taste of the sort of homes that may benefit from the price boom.