According to the National Association of Home Builders Leading Market Index, 83 percent of the nation’s local housing markets have improved since last year. The Index – which measures how quickly individual areas are returning to previous levels of normal economic and housing activity – found that the nationwide average is 88 percent back to normal. Kevin Kelly, NAHB’s chairman, said markets are gradually returning to normal levels and, as we see more sustainable levels of job growth, more home buyers will enter the marketplace. The index looks at the average permit, price, and employment levels for 350 metropolitan areas over the past year and compares it to where they were in 2000-2003, before the financial crisis and recession. Of those 350 metro markets, 56 have returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity and more than a third of all markets are operating at 90 percent of previous norms. In fact, among the index’s three components, only single-family housing permits are trailing behind. Prices and employment levels are operating at, or above, previous normal levels, while building permits are still just 43 percent of the way back. More here.