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Markets Lift With Job Growth, Home Prices, Permits

Job growth, appreciating home prices, and fewer scuttled single-family housing permits helped improve 76 housing markets over the last six months, according to an index released Monday.

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The ""National Association of Home Builders"":http://www.nahb.org/default.aspx (NAHB) and ""First American Title Insurance Company"":http://www.firstamericantitle.com/ released a joint index to measure improving markets against these criteria.

The index identified at least one improving market in 31 states and the nation's Capitol over the last six consecutive months.

Commenting on the figures, NAHB chairman Bob Nielsen said in a statement that trends show ""a significant, positive trend is developing.""

Cities that made the index included Dallas, Des Moines, and Jacksonville, with Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, and

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Texas garnering the most of any states in improving markets.

NAHB chief economist David Crowe called any findings from the index ""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,"" Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company, said in the same statement.

Earlier Monday real estate research firm Clear Capital forecasted that home prices will likely see progress in the New Year despite falling 1.2 percent year-over-year in 2011.

Other conditions, including record-low mortgage rates, help increase housing affordability for homeowners at a time when many have stayed on the sidelines during sharp market contractions that followed the financial crisis.

Nielsen added that housing improvements ""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.""

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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