MANATEE - The housing market nationally and in Manatee and Sarasota counties is continuing to improve, according to new data released today by the National Association of Home Builders.
In its First American Improving Markets Index, the number of improved housing markets in metro areas surged by 76 in December for a total of 201.
In the North Port, Sarasota, Manatee metro area, building permit growth was 5 percent from its low in 2009. Prices were up 7.7 percent from a 2011 low, the data shows. Employment growth in the North Port, Sarasota, Manatee metro area is 2.8 percent from December. 2010, when unemployment was at its highest.
A total of 84 new metros were added to the improved housing list and eight were dropped from it this month.
The big gain in improving markets this December indicates that key measures of housing and economic strength have now been holding steady or improving in metros across the country for six months or more, which is an important signal of stability amidst the slowly emerging recovery, said NAHB Chairman Barry Rutenberg, a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. The main thing thats limiting the progress were seeing right now is the difficulty that potential buyers continue to experience with regard to overly tight mortgage qualifying standards.