Signs of Life

Signs of Life

In Denver, the economy and employment slowed just as other areas did during the recession, but things appear to be moving in the right direction this year. Denver area home prices increased 5.8 percent year-on-year in the first quarter as sales grew and distressed sales fell, according to data from data company CoreLogic in Santa Ana, Calif.

It's not just Denver. Signs of life have emerged in areas around the country—signs that the worst may have passed. To determine which markets show the most improvement, Bloomberg and Businessweek.com ranked the 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) based on first-quarter data from CoreLogic. Metrics include: the home price change year-on-year, the foreclosure rate (and change in the foreclosure rate), the percentage of loans delinquent for more than 90 days (and the change in that rate), the year-on-year change in first-quarter home sales and distressed home sales, and the change in the unemployment rate from January to April, based on figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We placed the greatest emphasis on home prices, foreclosures, and delinquent loans. Only metros with increasing home prices—an important sign of a balancing market—were included in the final list.

Denver, Boston, and St. Louis came out on top. Markets still flooded with foreclosures, including Las Vegas and Miami, were at the bottom. Of course, improvement is a relative term these days. Even as home sales and prices rose, due in large part to the home buyer tax credit, foreclosures and delinquent loans persisted. While the U.S. housing market still has years to go before it recovers, some areas, after weathering serious difficulties over the past two years, are starting to show signs of life.

Click here to see the 21 most improved housing markets.

Data sources: "CoreLogic" and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics