The list of housing markets showing measurable improvement grew by 29 in February, bringing the total to 98 entries on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index, released Monday.

"The number of improving housing markets has risen for six consecutive months, and 36 states now have at least one metropolitan area on the list," noted NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen, a homebuilder from Reno, Nev.

Nielsen said "despite the many challenges that continue to drag on a housing recovery,” the numbers are an indication that improving conditions are “slowly but surely” spreading from housing market to housing market.

David Crowe, NAHB chief economist, said while many of the housing markets on the most recent IMI are “far fom fully recovered,” employment, home prices and housing production are no longer retreating and “have held above their lowest recession troughs for six months or more.” 

"This is a sign that a large cross section of the country is starting to turn the corner as local economic conditions stabilize,” he said.

The increase in February follows a massive jump in January, in which housing markets showing measurable improvement nearly doubled with the addition of 40 new metropolitan areas to the index, coming to a total of 76 improving markets – up from 41 in December.

Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company, said that the subsequent jump in February “shows that the momentum is building for a housing recovery and that more buyers and sellers are starting to feel confident enough to return to the market.”