The housing market’s slow paced recovery continues as more and more local real-estate markets return to normal levels of activity, according to a new report from the National Association of Home Builders. The NAHB’s Leading Markets Index measures how quickly more than 350 metro areas are returning to normal based on a comparison of their current building permit, home price, and employment data to averages from their last period of normal growth. The most recent report finds that the nationwide average is 89 percent of normal economic and housing activity, with 78 percent of metro markets showing year-over-year improvement. Kevin Kelly, NAHB’s chairman, said things are gradually improving and, as the job market grows, there should be a steady release of pent-up buyer demand. In fact, the job market is the most improved of the index’s components, with the number of metropolitan areas that have reached or exceeded their previous norms having jumped from 26 to 46 since last year. On the other hand, single-family housing permits are the component of the index which have been slowest to return to normal. More here.