The new year has opened with a sense of growing optimism for housing. Existing home sales climbed 5% in December while inventories dropped more than 9% to a 6.2 months-supply, down from 7.2 in November, which should help reduce downward pressure on home prices and increase confidence in the housing sector.
Single-family housing starts rose 4.4% in December to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 470,000, their fastest pace since the end of the home buyer tax credit program in 2010. This was consistent with recent improvements in builder confidence, as indicated by the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), which rose to 25 in January ― its highest level since the summer of 2007.
The NAHB/First American Improving Market Index (IMI) has grown to 76 markets, many of which rely on health care and educational institutions for a solid economic base. As construction and other sectors continue to improve in 2012, the list of cities on the IMI is expected to grow.
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