Index shows economic, housing growth holding steady

Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Friday, April 11th, 2014 at 1:03pm.

Colorado’s seven metropolitan areas demonstrated continued resilience as far as their economies and housing markets, as reflected in the most recent National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Markets Index (LMI).

Released April 7, the index shows that five of Colorado’s seven metros remained at the same levels of economic and housing activity they had in the previous month. Only Denver and Boulder improved, both by 0.01.

The TMI ranked Boulder 229th – the third lowest of Colorado metros – out of about 350 metros nationwide. That means that, based on current permit, price and employment data, the Boulder County is running at 81 percent of normal economic and housing activity.

Meanwhile, Fort Collins-Loveland was the highest-ranking Colorado metro at 144th, with an overall score of 0.88, which is in line with the national average and its previous month’s score. And Pueblo ranked the lowest among Colorado metros with an overall score of 0.72, so it’s performing at 72 percent of normal economic and housing activity, though that’s better than the 71 percent level in March.

Here’s a look at how all seven of Colorado’s metro areas performed compared with the nation:

Economists are buoyed by the fact that 59 markets nationwide have returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity, according to the index. That is a net gain of 11 metros year over year.

The index also shows that 28 percent of metro areas saw their score rise this month and 83 percent have shown an improvement over the past year.

“Things are getting slowly better overall,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. “And with the housing market now entering the spring buying season, the fact that the nation’s economy is headed in the right direction is a very promising sign.”

The LMI shifts the focus from identifying markets that have recently begun to recover, which was the aim of a previous gauge known as the Improving Markets Index, to identifying those areas that are now approaching and exceeding their previous normal levels of economic and housing activity. More than 350 metro areas are scored by taking their average permit, price and employment levels for the past 12 months and dividing each by their annual average over the last period of normal growth. For single-family permits and home prices, 2000-2003 is used as the last normal period, and for employment, 2007 is the base comparison. The three components are then averaged to provide an overall score for each market; a national score is calculated based on national measures of the three metrics. An index value above one indicates that a market has advanced beyond its previous normal level of economic activity.

In calculating the LMI, NAHB uses employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation data from Freddie Mac and single-family housing permits from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Tom Kalinski 
Owner and Founder
RE/MAX of Boulder

Leave a Comment