Freddie Mac has released its Multi-Indicator Market Index (MiMi) showing the U.S. housing market overall largely flat compared to the prior month and especially since last year at this time. Of those markets that are improving or experiencing a stable range of housing activity, most are benefiting from the energy boom taking place along the country's mid-section.
The national MiMi value stands at -3.06 points indicating a weak housing market overall with only a slight improvement (+0.03 points) from February to March and a three-month flat trend (+0.05 points). However, on a year-over-year basis, the U.S. housing market has improved by 0.66 points. The nation's all-time MiMi low of -4.49 was in November 2010 when the housing market was at its weakest.
"Less than half of the housing markets MiMi covers are showing an improving trend, whereas at this same time last year more than 90 percent of these same markets were headed in the right direction," said Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft. "We're hopeful that many of these markets that have stalled will start moving again now that mortgage rates have eased over the past month and the spring homebuying season is upon us. House price gains are a double-edged sword at this stage of the recovery. They help those hard-hit markets where prices are still low and many homeowners are underwater, but in areas where supply is constrained, they're creating an imbalance and pricing out many first-time homebuyers."
Ten of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, are in their stable range with North Dakota, Wyoming, the District of Columbia, Alaska, and Louisiana ranking in the top five and unchanged from last month. Four of the 50 metro areas are in their stable range, San Antonio, New Orleans, Austin and Houston.
The five most improving states month-over-month are Ohio (+0.12), Rhode Island (+0.11), Illinois (+0.10), Texas (+0.10) and South Carolina (+0.09). From one year ago the most improving states remained unchanged: Florida (+1.83), Nevada (+1.60), South Carolina (+0.99), California (+0.97) and Texas (+0.96).
The five most improving metro areas month-over-month are Cincinnati (+0.11), Columbus (+0.11), Houston (+0.10), Riverside (+0.10), and San Antonio (+0.10). From one year ago the most improving metros remained unchanged: Miami (+2.37), Orlando (+1.91), Las Vegas (+1.71), Tampa (+1.57), and Riverside (+1.44).
Overall, in March, 13 of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia are improving based on their three month trend, and 20 of the 50 metros show an improving trend.