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North Dakota Ranks as the Most Stable U.S. Housing Market

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March 26 (Bloomberg) -- North Dakota, Washington, D.C. and Wyoming rank as the most stable U.S. housing markets, according to a new Freddie Mac gauge that weighs criteria including mortgage applications, income ratios and employment.

Freddie Mac’s Multi-Indicator Market Index released today measures the stability of states and the U.S. capital, as well as the top 50 metropolitan areas. Nationally, the measure shows an improving housing market that’s still outside its healthy range, the McLean, Virginia-based company said in a statement.

“We’re making progress, we’re recovering but we’re not all the way there yet,” Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac, said in a phone interview. “Some places are much closer and others have farther to go.”

The U.S. housing market has been healing for two years as the job market improves and competition for tight inventories fuels home-price gains. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities increased 13.2 percent in the year through January, according to a report yesterday. Rising employment and income growth is bolstering many areas, Freddie Mac said.

The Freddie Mac measure assesses the stability of each market relative to its historical range, based on home purchase applications, payment-to-income ratios, local employment and the proportion of on-time mortgage payments.

North Dakota is benefiting from an oil boom that has driven up employment, personal income and residential real estate values. Home prices climbed 39 percent from the end of 2006 through last year, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, avoiding the housing crash in the rest of the country.

The most stable metro areas as of January were San Antonio, Houston, and Austin in Texas, followed by New Orleans, according to Freddie Mac. The least stable were Las Vegas; Atlanta; Orlando, Florida; and Chicago.

To contact the reporter on this story: Prashant Gopal in Boston at pgopal2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net Christine Maurus

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