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Metro Detroit’s Housing Market Makes Improvement List

By Greta Guest, Detroit Free Press

Metro Detroit’s housing market made the list of improving markets for the first time in February, a national home builders group said Monday.

The National Association of Home Builders also included Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Muskegon and Monroe on the list, which is based on single-family housing permit growth, employment growth and house price appreciation.

Michael Stoskopf, chief executive of the Building Industry Association of Southeastern Michigan, said he was pleasantly surprised that metro Detroit showed up on the list.

“We are beginning to hope,” he said. “It’s like when the Lions get to the playoffs and you still can’t believe it.”

And not just any market can get on the list.

An area must show improvement in all three areas for six months before being included on the list.

The list now includes 98 markets.

The index began in September to help track which metro areas are moving out of the housing slump. It measures improvement from the market’s bottom.

Metro Detroit permits have risen 8.6% since April 2009, prices have risen 6.8% since March 2011 and employment is up 2.4% since June 2009, according to the index.

Stoskopf said that while on the upswing, permits are way off historical averages.

For example, last year there were nearly 2,600 permits in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and St. Clair counties.

That compares with a 40-year average of 10,000 permits a year.

“So we are 26% of the way back,” he said.

Other metro areas new to the index in February were Miami, Boston, Kansas City, Portland, Ore., Memphis and Salt Lake City. Now, 36 states have at least one metro area on the list.

“This indicates that despite the many challenges that continue to drag on a housing recovery — including the tight lending environment for builders and buyers — improving conditions are slowly but surely spreading from one housing market to the next,” said Bob Nielsen, chairman of the NAHB.

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