The 2012 buying and selling season is well underway and the housing market
is finally showing signs of life. Agents are sharing stories of bidding
wars in many markets as buyers are getting off the fence, ready to
capitalize on still-record low levels of affordability.
So is now really a good time to buy? In many markets yes, and some places are better markets for buyers than others.
Knowing that some people might still be wary of dipping their toes in
the real estate market, we looked at the places where it makes a lot of
sense to buy if you live there. To determine our Best Places to Buy in
2012 list, we gave equal weight to several factors including:
housing prices compared to local incomes
home value trends (where home values have been stabilizing or rising over the past year and past quarter)
unemployment rates and the change in unemployment rates over the past year
whether buying makes more sense than renting.
One caveat – just because your city didn't rise to the top of
our list doesn't mean you shouldn't buy there. If you're planning to
live in your home at least 5-7 years and have good credit, now can be a
great time to buy in many markets.
Grand Rapids, MI
Home values are on the upswing in Grand Rapids, increasing on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis according to Zillow's Home Value Index (ZHVI).
Home values are up 4.8 percent from April last year.The median home
value is $108,000 which compares favorably with median incomes in the
area. The unemployment picture is also improving in Grand Rapids,
falling nearly 2 percent this past year.
This updated Alger Heights home
is in an established neighborhood and has 3 beds, 2 baths and contains
1,551 square feet. Renovated kitchen has maple cabinets and granite tile
counters. The flooring features natural slate, hardwood and newer
Phoenix is a poster child for the housing recession. Home values have
fallen a whopping 54 percent since the peak of market. Currently, the
metro is still working through high levels of foreclosure inventory;
foreclosure re-sales made up 28 percent of all sales in April. This is
actually good news, because it signals that investors are coming in
droves to scoop up homes. All of this investor activity is starting to
boost home values. Not only are Phoenix home values up, Zillow forecasts
them to rise 6.5 percent this year. "Phoenix is probably the best
example of a hard-hit market that is showing signs of recovery,"
according to Stan Humphries, Zillow's chief economist.
No need to worry about the grass growing or dying from the intense
Arizona heat in this home. The huge backyard contains artificial grass,
plus has a built-in spa, barbecue surround and fireplace. There's plenty
of space inside, too, with 3,317 square feet of living space, including
4 beds and 3 baths. It just recently underwent a price cut of $15,000.
Home values in Pittsburgh have been rising for the past year, making
it one of the better performing markets in the country. In fact, 87
percent of homes there sold for a gain in April – the highest rate in
It might be circa 1929, but this grand, old home on a tree-lined
street has been freshened up with new paint and updated with new
windows, doors, tile and hardwood floors, glass block and back splash,
also a new roof and garage.
Home values rose 4.9 percent in Oklahoma City this past year and the
unemployment rate is one of the lowest on our list at 5.1 percent and
falling. While some markets on our list represent markets that are
showing signs of life after suffering from years of falling home values,
Oklahoma City stands out as a beacon of stability, 80 percent of homes
in April sold for a gain.
Neatly groomed, trimmed and cared for, this Oklahoma City home has an
updated kitchen with new countertops, backsplash, stainless steel
appliances, and cabinets. Walls in all rooms have been textured and
freshly painted. Cathedral ceilings and bookshelves in living room.
Rochester has been another steady performer throughout the housing
crisis and while home values are down slightly for the year, values are
rising on a monthly and quarterly basis. Rochester scored especially
high in the price to rent category. It takes 7.3 years of rent to buy a
similar home in Rochester, compared with the national average of 10.4.
Buyers also have some negotiating room, 40 percent of listings had
price cuts in April. 80% of homes sold for a gain in April.
This 3-bed, 2.5-bath cheery yellow Colonial home offers 1,860 square
feet of living space and is located on a tree-lined street across from
the Seneca Park Zoo. Charming details include leaded glass on windows
and doors, hardwood floors, moldings and French doors to enclosed porch.
Dallas made our list with a high score in the affordability category,
home prices are 5 percent below their historical average, even though
home values have performed much better than most of the country, falling
15 percent from their peak. Buyers in Dallas also get a good bang for
their buck, the median value per square foot in Dallas is $65, compared
with $92 for the nation.
Enjoy Tri-Cities view from this traditional 3-bed, 2.5-bath home, which on the Southwest Dallas real estate market.
Kitchen includes granite countertops, stone backsplashes, a black
undermount sink, and cherry wood cabinets. Upstairs bedrooms include
huge, Texas-size master suite and bath with sitting area, jetted tub
& large 5 foot shower.
Couple stable home values with affordability, and it's good to be a
buyer in Memphis. Buyers also get a lot of house for their money in
Memphis — the median value per square foot is $60. For comparison's
sake, the median value per square foot in Honolulu is $405 (granted you
get to live in Hawaii, but still!)
Home prices compare favorably to incomes in Dayton, and affordable
homes mean buying makes more sense than renting. 38 percent of listings
had a price cut in April so buyers also have some negotiation room as
This 2,482-sq ft home in the St. Anne's Historic district
has been updated and includes 3 beds and 2 baths. The living room
features an antique carved mantle and surround for the gas fireplace.
Both the living room and dining room have hardwood floors and wide
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