Dropping slightly from June, a total of 255 metro areas throughout 49 states and the District of Columbia qualified as an "improving housing market," according to the National Association of Home Builders and First American. 

In June, 263 metros made the list. However, year-over-year the July total is more than triple the number of metros on the list in July 2012. 

Six new markets were added to the Improving Markets Index this month, while 14 were dropped from it. Newcomers included Cumberland, Md., Saginaw, Mich., Farmington and Las Cruces, N.M., Kingston, N.Y. and Olympia, Wash.

"This is the sixth straight month in which at least 70% of all U.S. metros have qualified for the Improving Markets Index," observed NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, who noted that the relative stability of the IMI is representative of the broad recovery underway, which is much more extensive than what was seen one year ago. 

NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe added, "Based on recent trends in home prices, housing permits and employment, the outlook for a continued housing expansion remains very positive for the remainder of 2013."