The list of improving U.S. housing markets expanded for the seventh consecutive month with 274 metros now considered on the upswing, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index.

This month’s report reveals a net gain of 15 markets since February and includes entrants from all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia.

The list is compiled using information such as improvement in housing permits, employment and house prices for six consecutive months. The March list saw 34 new markets added to the list, while 19 markets fell off.

Birmingham, Ala.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Bloomington, Ind., were among the most notable additions.

NAHB Chairman Rick Judson notes that this is the second consecutive month in which every state is represented by at least one metro on the improving list.

"The expanding housing recovery is energizing communities nationwide by generating jobs and local tax revenues — and it could be an even more potent force for economic growth if credit for building and buying homes was more readily available," said Judson.

More than 75% of the 361 metros covered by the IMI are now seen as improving, indicating that the housing market is on considerably more solid footing than it was at this time last year, adds NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

"While we expect this positive momentum to continue, it’s important to understand that many markets are just beginning the recovery process, and that numerous issues – from credit availability to the rising cost of building materials and emerging lot shortages – are slowing the pace of that advancement," Crowe added.

"With the understanding that there are still a lot of uncertainties in the regulatory arena, it looks like we are finally seeing the beginning of what could be a broad and deep recovery of the nation’s housing market," said Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company.