Reporter-Albuquerque Business First

For the first time, the National Association of Home Builders has included Albuquerque on its First American Improving Markets Index.

The index ranked the Albuquerque area No. 158 out of 259 metropolitan areas classified as improving. The index tracks 361 metro areas overall.

The index identifies metro areas that have shown improvement in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. The index began soon after the housing market collapsed and has stayed in place as markets have begun to show signs of improvement.

“The fact that Albuquerque is on this important and much-watched index for the first time is a confirmation that the improvement that we are seeing in the number of housing starts is meaningful,”Jim Folkman, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico, said.

The greater Albuquerque market saw about a 20 percent increase in housing permits for 2012 as compared to 2011. Folkman said he anticipates a similar increase this year over 2012.