ELKHART — Elkhart County and neighboring St. Joseph County are at the top of growth in the state for improving home markets, according to a national study by the National Association of Home Builders.
The Elkhart housing market hit a trough in building permits at the end of April 2009, and the South Bend housing market hit that trough at the end of November 2011, according to the NAHB/First American “Improving Markets Index.”
Prices hit a low in Elkhart County at the end of February 2012, while they hit their low a month later for the South Bend market.
Since those lows, the South Bend market has grown 6.3 percent and the Elkhart market has grown 4.8 percent, according to the index.
“Just over 70 percent of the 361 metros covered by the IMI are listed as improving this month,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe in a written announcement of the index. “That’s a far cry from when we initiated this index with just 12 improving metros in September of 2011 for the purpose of highlighting places that didn’t fit the mold of the national headlines. Today, the story is about how widespread the recovery has become as conditions steadily improve in markets nationwide.”
There were markets in every state that made the index released Tuesday, Feb. 6.
Rick Judson, NAHB 2013 chairman and a home builder, said, “The fact that all 50 states now have at least one metro on the improving list shows that the housing recovery has substantial momentum and continues to expand from one market to the next.”
The study looks at employment growth from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, house-price appreciation data from Freddie Mac and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. A metropolitan area has to see improvement in all three for at least six months following the trough before making the list.
This was the first time South Bend made the list, and Fort Wayne also made the list for the first time in February. Also on the list for Indiana are Columbus, Indianapolis, Lafayette and Terre Haute. In Michigan, nearby Kalamazoo is one of the 10 metro areas on the index.
“The continued expansion of improving housing markets in February should help convince those who have been considering a home purchase that now is the time to go forward with those plans,” said Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company.