2nd Place, woo hoo
Forbes Magazine says Austin is the 2nd best cities to buy a home in right now. God bless Austin. Read on …
Forbes, Real Estate
Best Cities To Buy A Home
Maurna Desmond, 07.14.08, 6:00 PM ET
Houston, we don’t have a housing problem.
The city’s $152,500 median home sale price is up 6.6% from 2005. It boasts a low vacancy rate and an oil-rich economy. Throw in a bubbling entrepreneurial tech scene, and you’ve got four factors that put Houston on the top of our list of best places to buy a home.
San Francisco, Charlotte, N.C., Jacksonville, Fla., and St. Louis, Mo., are other areas buyers can feel safe investing in.
In Depth: Best Cities To Buy A Home
We examined the country’s 40 largest metropolitan areas and looked at where home prices have appreciated over the last two years. We also measured tightening vacancy rates. These metrics indicate places where buyers are investing in homes in order to live, not just make a quick buck, and where the housing market is relatively solid. We culled our vacancy and home price information from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Association of Realtors.
The average vacancy rate across the major metro areas was 2.88%, and the average percent appreciation was just .07% over the last two years.
With lending tight, we also factored in the spread between a monthly rent check and a mortgage payment at the median level (assuming that the down payment was 10% and the fixed interest rate is 6.25%). Encino, Calif.-based real estate brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap provided stats on median monthly rents.
Cities where a mortgage payment was close to, or less than, the average rent were given a higher score. For instance, in Cleveland the average rent is $702, and the average mortgage is $565.78. With a lower monthly payment, tax incentives and the opportunity to build equity, it makes sense to buy here.
In stark contrast, San Jose, Calif., has an average monthly mortgage payment of $4,322.33, versus an average rent of $1,612.
Lots To Like In The Lone-Star State
Texas dominated our lineup of mortgage-worthy areas. Thanks to a business-friendly tax environment, many large corporations call the Lone Star State home, which creates jobs and tax revenue.
The University of Texas campus provides young blood and research-related jobs to No. 2 city Austin. This state capitol is a hip area on the rise. The vacancy rate has fallen by 37.5% in the last 24 months to just 1.5%, despite a lot of building in recent years. And buying isn’t much more expensive than renting. An average mortgage payment is $1,022.40, and average rent hits $767.
San Antonio, No. 5, and Dallas, No. 6, made the list thanks to affordable housing, which continues to appreciate. In both cities, the median home price hovers around $150,000, and a monthly mortgage payment of around $800 is pretty close to what one pays in rent. If you can pony up the down payment, these are great areas to live.
Coast-to-Coast Sweet Spots
Philadelphia landed at No. 4, with homes appreciating by 9.1% in the last two years and vacancy rates staying low at 1.9%. This university town, which plays host to the University of Pennsylvania, certainly has its charm. A city on the rise with a tempting cost of living, Philly is a great place to buy a new home.
The South made a nice showing with Charlotte, N.C., Jacksonville, Flo., and Atlanta, Ga., making our list. Charlotte and Jacksonville have surged in price by 12.9% and 8%, respectively. Atlanta has seen huge amounts of growth and remains reasonable with a median home price of $172,000.
San Francisco, this year’s best city for young professionals, came in at a respectable No. 8. While housing certainly isn’t cheap in the City by the Bay, it is definitely in demand and continues to appreciate. For a buyer, San Francisco offers a culturally rich and beautiful city that is chock full of opportunity.
1. Houston, Texas
Houston, we don’t have a problem. Well known as an energy industry hub, this growing metro area recently made Forbes.com’s Top 10 Up-And-Coming Tech Cities thanks to the Houston Technology Center and bubbling entrepreneurial tech scene. With home prices on the rise by 6.6% and vacant homes disappearing by 11.3% in the last two years, this is one area where buyers can feel safe jumping in.
2. Austin, Texas
Here, a whopping 98.5% of homes are filled, and that small sliver of vacancy is thinning. Home prices, meanwhile, have surged from $163,800 in 2005, to $183,700 in 2007.
A trendy art and music scene–the city plays host to music festivals South by Southwest and Austin City Limits–makes it an affordable place to live for any culture vulture.
3. St. Louis, Mo.
St. Louis is a great place to settle because it’s not overbuilt and is reasonably priced relative to income. Thanks to the attractive cost of living, many large corporations–including brewing behemoth Anheuser-Busch and financial heavies Stifel Nicolaus and Edward Jones–call St. Louis home. With a family friendly culture, and a steadily appreciating median home price of $145,400, the “Gateway to the West” is a great place to buy a home.
4. Philadelphia, Pa.
The City of Brotherly Love has a tight housing market–just 1.9% vacancy–reflecting the lure of a charming and historic American city. Steeped in tradition, this city is priced well, with a median home price of $234,900, up from $215,000 in 2005. With abundant cultural outlets, including universities, museums and theaters, Philly is a great place to call home.
5. San Antonio, Texas
This Latin-flavored American city is growing fast thanks to bustling businesses and a low cost of living. Having major corporations like IBM certainly helps attract residents who bring brains and tax revenue to the city. With a median home price of $150,900, up from $133,900 in 2005, it’s an affordable place relative to the rest of the country. Home to professional basketball’s Spurs, this town is packed–just 2.4% vacancy–and full of Texas pride.
6. Dallas, Texas
Shiny skyscrapers and charming suburbs make Dallas a tempting place to sign mortgage papers. With appreciating median home prices in the $150,000 territory, just about anyone can get in. And with just 2.5% of homes vacant, it appears they are. While the city has a reputation for cowboy boots and big trucks, Dallas is a sophisticated metropolis that rivals any major U.S. city in terms of culture and cuisine.
7. Charlotte, N.C.
Don’t be fooled by the sweet Southern accent; Charlotte is the second-largest banking capital in the U.S., behind New York City. With the University of North Carolina nearby and tons of cultural attractions, this is a city that won’t get tired. The market is reflecting what residents already know: Median home prices hopped to $205,400 in 2007, from $180,900 in 2005. Charlotte’s vacancy rate is just a bit above the national average at 3.1%, reflecting a lot of space that is likely to get snapped up.
8. San Francisco, Calif.
The City by the Bay may be pricey, but it’s one of a kind. If high culture, good food and great architectural bones are to your taste–this is the town for you. If a median home price of $805,000–up $52,800 from 2005–and cold, damp weather all year long aren’t, you might try somewhere else. This city is rich in history, human capital and fun. That’s part of why it topped our 2008 list of Best Cities For Young Urban Professionals.
9. Jacksonville, Fla.
Since 2000, Jacksonville’s population has grown an impressive 8%. Meanwhile, median home prices have climbed 14% in the last 24 months to $189,200. Along with its other virtues, sunshine-rich Jacksonville came in at No. 3 on our 2008 Cleanest Cities list thanks to fresh air and clean water.
10. Atlanta, Ga.
A city that constantly tops our lists of best places for just about anything, Atlanta is a great place to buy a home. With median properties in the $170,000 neighborhood, this booming city is affordable and packed with things to do. Ranked No. 6 on the 2008 Best Places For Business list, Atlanta has jobs and a competitive cost of living. This means taking out a mortgage is a safe long-term decision.
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