After climbing for seven straight months, the improving markets index (IMI) from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and First American fell by one market from the prior month.

The index identified 273 markets as improving this month, down from 274 in March.

Although the index welcomed five new markets in April, six dropped off the list. New entrants to the list were Macon, Georgia.; Portland, Maine; Rocky Mount, North Carolina; Eugene, Oregon; and Jackson, Tennessee.

The six markets taken off this month were Napa, California; Tallahassee, Florida; Bangor, Maine; Brownsville, Texas; Roanoke, Virginia; and Yakima, Washington.

“The stability in the improving markets list this month is encouraging, with three quarters of all metros tracked by our index considered on the upswing as the housing recovery spreads to parts of every state,” said Rick Judson, NAHB chairman and a homebuilder from Charlotte. “In some markets, the main thing that’s holding back a recovery is a relatively thin inventory of homes for sale, which could be resolved if builders had easier access to credit for building homes and putting people back to work.”

Only markets that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment, and house prices for at least six consecutive months are categorized as improving.

All 50 states were still represented on the index.

After strong gains through late 2012 and early 2013, David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist, projects future expansions to the list will be more moderate.

“We can expect to see more gradual gains going forward as challenges related to increased demand kick in – including everything from tightened supplies of developable lots and labor to the rising cost of building materials."

by Esther Cho