More housing markets nationwide are showing signs of improvement, a new report from the National Association of Home Builders says.

Twenty-nine more metro areas made it onto the NAHB-First American Improving Markets Index, which now lists 98 markets in 36 states as showing measurable gains in housing permits, prices and employment for at least six straight months.

Additions to the most improved list include Miami; Boston; Salt Lake City; Detroit; Kansas City, Mo.; Portland, Ore.; and Memphis, Tenn.

NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen, a home builder from Reno, Nev., said this is good news.

"This indicates that despite the many challenges that continue to drag on a housing recovery, including the tight lending environment for builders and buyers, improving conditions are slowly but surely spreading from one housing market to the next," Nielsen said. 

David Crowe, the association’s chief economist, said the index demonstrates some deeply distressed sections of the country are showing signs of life.

"While many of the markets on the February IMI are far from fully recovered, the index points out where employment, home prices and housing production are no longer retreating and have held above their lowest recession troughs for six months or more," Crowe said. "This is a sign that a large cross section of the country is starting to turn the corner as local economic conditions stabilize."  

Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Co., which compiles the index with the builders association, echoed Crowe.

"The fact that there are nearly 100 markets now on the improving list shows that the momentum is building for a housing recovery and that more buyers and sellers are starting to feel confident enough to return to the market," Pfotenhauer said.

Some housing markets lost momentum, however. San Jose, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; Kankakee, Ill.; New Orleans; Worcester, Mass.; Jackson, Miss.; and Sherman, Texas, dropped off the index due to weakening prices or activity.

The complete index is available here .