National Association Of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index Rises From 41 Metropolitan Areas In December To 76 In January

Forty New Markets Join the List, including Denver, Colo., Madison, Wisc., Fayetteville, Ark., and Dallas, Texas


January 9, 2012, Santa Ana, Calif.,

First American Financial Corporation (NYSE: FAF), a leading global provider of title insurance and settlement services for real estate transactions, and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), today released the monthly National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI).

This month’s NAHB/First American IMI reveals that the number of housing markets showing measurable improvement nearly doubled in January with the addition of 40 new metropolitan areas to the index. The IMI now boasts 76 improving markets, up from 41 in December, with 31 states and the District of Columbia represented by at least one entry. The list also reflects the deletion of five metros from last month: Anchorage, Alaska; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Canton, Ohio; Scranton, Pa., and Charleston, W.Va.

The index identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. New entrants to the list in January include the following (listed alphabetically by state):

Florence, Ala.

Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Fayetteville, Ark.

Denver, Colo.

Greeley, Colo.

Bridgeport, Conn.

New Haven, Conn.

Cape Coral, Fla.

Jacksonville, Fla.

Punta Gorda, Fla.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Ames, Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa

Dubuque, Iowa

Elkhart, Ind.

Indianapolis, Ind.

Lafayette, Ind.

Lake Charles, La.

Worcester, Mass.

Grand Rapids, Mich.

Lansing, Mich.

Monroe, Mich.

Minneapolis, Minn.

Columbia, Mo.

Joplin, Mo.

Fargo, N.D.

Manchester, N.H.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Oklahoma City, Okla.

Tulsa, Okla.

Corvallis, Ore.

Erie, Pa.

Philadelphia, Pa.

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Clarksville, Tenn.

Nashville, Tenn.

College Station, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Victoria, Texas

Madison, Wisc.

"The fact that the list of improving housing markets nearly doubled this month shows that a significant, positive trend is developing, and is even more relevant when you consider the expanding geographic distribution of the list – which now includes 31 states and the District of Columbia," noted NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen, a home builder from Reno, Nev.  "This trend could be even stronger if not for the numerous impediments that continue to slow a housing and economic recovery, including overly restrictive lending policies and the growing inventory of distressed properties in certain markets."

"While relatively small metropolitan areas continue to dominate the list of improving housing markets, it’s important to note that several major metros in diverse parts of the country have now joined the field as well – including such places as Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Nashville and Philadelphia," added NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "This is an encouraging sign that gradually strengthening economic conditions are starting to take hold across a broader swath of America."

"The substantial gain in the number of improving housing markets in January shows that more consumers are looking favorably at a home purchase in light of today’s historically low interest rates and attractive prices, particularly in areas where job growth has picked up," added Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company.

The IMI is designed to track housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of improving economic health. The index measures three sets of independent monthly data to get a mark on the top improving Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The three indicators that are analyzed are employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation from Freddie Mac and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. NAHB uses the latest available data from these sources to generate a list of improving markets. A metropolitan area must see improvement in all three areas for at least six months following their respective troughs before being included on the improving markets list. A complete list of all 76 metropolitan areas currently on the IMI is available at: www.nahb.org/imi.

Editor’s Note: The NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) is released on the fourth business day of each month at 10:00 a.m. ET, unless that day falls on a Friday, in which case, the index will be released the following Monday. A full calendar of 2011 release dates can be found at www.nahb.org/imi.  

About First American
First American Financial Corporation (NYSE: FAF)is a leading provider of title insurance and settlement services to the real estate and mortgage industries, that traces its heritage back to 1889. First American and its affiliated companies also provide title plant management services; title and other

real property records and images; valuation products and services; home warranty products; property and casualty insurance; and banking, trust and investment advisory services. With revenues of $3.9 billion in 2010, the company offers its products and services directly and through its agents and partners in all 50 states and abroad. More information about the company can be found at www.firstam.com.

About NAHB
The National Association of Home Builders is a Washington-based trade association representing more than 160,000 members involved in home building, remodeling, multifamily construction, property management, subcontracting, design, housing finance, building product manufacturing and other aspects of residential and light commercial construction. NAHB is affiliated with 800 state and local home builders associations around the country. NAHB's builder members will construct about 80 percent of the new housing units projected for this year.

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