Realtor.com looked at real estate prices in the 100 biggest cities in the country in October.
As anyone who has ever looked for a house knows, the real estate game is all about hopping in at the right time and locking in that mortgage.
With the median national home price in September at $427,250, it often feels like the right to buy was a few years before you started looking–saving for a down payment while also paying rent and finding oneself in a losing race against price growth is a very familiar story for many.
To make the jump from renting to owning, some choose to move to a smaller town that has potential for growth–lower prices will offer that entry point while rising prices over several years will give owners more flexibility in other markets when they do choose to exchange it.
At the Intersection of Cleveland and Pittsburgh
Looking at the country’s 100 biggest cities, Realtor.com found that Youngstown, Ohio, soared to the top of the affordability list in October.
At $149,900 median price or $95 per square foot, the 64,000-person town between Cleveland and Pittsburgh still saw its real estate prices grow by 12% year-over-year.
Next on the list was Pennsylvania’s Scranton. While a town once known for its coal industry saw its population drop dramatically during industrialization, the city located 125 miles north of Philadelphia is in the midst of a major revival. The historic feel and low prices ($225,000 or $124 per square foot) have been attracting both young homebuyers and investors–home prices rose 20% year-over-year.
“The home prices in Scranton are low even after steady increases over the past year,” writes Realtor.com. “[…] It’s one of four metropolitan areas on this list bucking the recent trend of prices falling a little.”
New York’s Syracuse, Wichita in Kansas and Jackson, Miss., rounded out the top five–all had a median home price below $305,000.
No to the West Coast (Yes to the Northeast and South)
Wichita in particular is seeing a housing boom with the highest price growth on the list. Home prices in Wichita rose by 24% year-over-year and hit an all-time high in November even as many places in the country are seeing small corrections after months of growth.
Wichita is also the most “Western” city to make the Top 10 as not a single city in California or even entire West Coast made the list for affordability.
After years of sky-high growth, all states bordering the Pacific Ocean have home prices that are far above the national average–$613,674 in Washington, $515,439 in Oregon and a whopping $769,405 in California.
Cheap isn’t always a good thing as a lower price usually comes from stagnation or a lack of buyer interest. But many of the small cities on the list hit the sought-after combination of affordability, strong quality of life and some moderate growth. Cities in the Top 10 also include Little Rock, Ark., Indianapolis and McAllen, Texas.
“These are generally smaller metropolitan areas in the Northeast, the Upper Midwest, and the South, many of which have gone through economic challenges in recent years,” writes Realtor.com. “Prices in these places have historically been lower than the rest of the country–and they didn’t go through the dramatic COVID-19 price pumps of the past couple of years seen by red-hot markets such as Phoenix, Boston, and Denver.”