The nation is running at 90% of normal economic and housing activity as more markets return to normal, the National Association of Home Builders/First American Lending Markets index said.
The index reported the nationwide score moving up slightly to .90, which is based on current permit, price and employment data.
Markets in 63 of 350 metro areas nationwide returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity in the fourth quarter of 2014.
“The markets are improving at a consistent pace,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods. “A growing economy and rising consumer confidence should help drive the release of pent-up demand in 2015.”
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, kept the top spot on the list of major metros on the LMI, with a score of 1.41 – or 41% better than its last normal market level. Other leading metros included Austin, Honolulu, Houston and Oklahoma City.
As far as smaller metros, both Midland and Odessa, Texas, have LMI scores of 2.0 or better, meaning their markets are now at double their strength prior to the recession.
“The encouraging news is employment, where the number of metros that reached or surpassed their norms rose by 23 in a year,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “However, single-family permits are only at 44% of normal activity, and remain the sluggish component of the index.”