Freddie: 'Housing Market Strongest in Years'

The housing market is gradually showing signs of stabilizing, as two extra states – Arkansas and Tennessee –  as well as four additional metro areas are added to Freddie Mac’s latest Multi-Indicator Market Index reading. The added metros are Omaha, Neb.; Scranton, Pa.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Madison, Wis. 

The MiMi measures the dependability of the country's  housing market by comparing its long-term stable range to current ratios in home purchase applications, debt-to-income ratios, on-time mortgage payments, and employment. 

Since hitting an all-time low in October 2010, the national MiMi the national MiMi has rebounded 35 percent. However, it remains significantly off from its high of 121.7. It’s currently at a value of 80.3, a housing market considered mostly in a stable range. 

"Housing markets are the strongest they've been in years with the National MiMi above 80 for the first time since 2008,” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist. “Nationally, all MiMi indicators are heading in the right direction. Robust home buyer demand has put total home sales on pace for the best year since 2007 and look for that trend to continue as the MiMi purchase applications indicator remains on the upswing. The West has been especially strong, with many markets posting double-digit growth in their MiMi purchase applications indicator compared to a year ago." 

Still, home prices are about 7 percent below peak values nationally, Kiefer notes. However, home prices in many markets are soaring to all-time highs, and that along with low interest rates, are helping to support home buyer affordability, he says. 

Additionally, "mortgage delinquencies are coming down rapidly, but are still high in many markets,” Kiefer says.   Kiefer says. " markets hardest hit by the Great Recession, incorporating many in Florida, are rebounding but they still need to improve to get delinquencies back in line with their benchmark historic averages. The key driver of all this recovery has been solid job growth, with 96 out of 100 metros and all states within range of their benchmark historic average unemployment rate." 

Freddie Mac's latest MiMi reading showed that 28 of the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have values in a stable range. The top five are: Washington, D.C.; North Dakota; Montana; Hawaii; and California and Utah (tied). 

Likewise, 42 of the 100  metro areas have MiMi values in a stable range. Ranking in the top five are: Fresno, Calif.; Austin, Texas; Honolulu; Salt Lake City; and Los Angeles.