Whether you’re joining the real-estate business or just looking for a place to call home, it’s important to get a handle on the housing markets you’re considering before investing in a property. This year, the housing market is in a unique situation as mortgage rates have hit record lows at a time when many Americans are struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For those who have extra cash, buying a home now could be a golden opportunity. It is important to note that home prices have been rising on average throughout the pandemic as well, but home prices and rental rates vary widely across the U.S. based on supply and demand.
If you aim for long-term growth, equity and profit, you’ll need to look beyond tangible factors like square footage and style. Those factors certainly drive up property values. From an investor’s standpoint, though, they hold less significance than historical market trends and the economic health of residents.
To determine the best local real-estate markets in the U.S., WalletHub compared 300 cities of varying sizes across 24 key indicators of housing-market attractiveness and economic strength. Our data set ranges from median home-price appreciation to home sales turnover rate to job growth. Read on for our findings, expert insight from a panel of researchers and a full description of our methodology.
Best Places to Buy a House
|Overall Rank (1 = Best)||City||Total Score||'Real-Estate Market' Rank||'Affordability & Economic Environment' Rank|
|8||Spokane Valley, WA||65.38||9||57|
|12||Federal Way, WA||64.69||7||175|
|21||Colorado Springs, CO||63.66||21||67|
Ranking by City Size
|Overall Rank (1 = Best)||Large Cities||Overall Rank (1 = Best)||Midsize Cities||Overall Rank (1 = Best)||Small Cities|
|2||Spokane Valley, WA|
|4||Colorado Springs, CO|
|5||Federal Way, WA|
|8||Fort Worth, TX|
|15||Elk Grove, CA|
|16||Overland Park, KS|
|17||San Jose, CA|
|17||North Charleston, SC|
|18||Oklahoma City, OK|
|21||Grand Prairie, TX|
|22||St. Paul, MN|
|22||Fort Wayne, IN|
|22||Santa Clara, CA|
|23||Las Vegas, NV|
|24||Broken Arrow, OK|
|27||Fort Collins, CO|
|28||San Diego, CA|
|31||High Point, NC|
|34||Grand Rapids, MI|
|34||Sterling Heights, MI|
|35||Santa Clarita, CA|
|37||Port St. Lucie, FL|
|37||Daly City, CA|
|38||San Francisco, CA|
|39||Virginia Beach, VA|
|40||North Las Vegas, NV|
|41||Long Beach, CA|
|42||Kansas City, MO|
|42||Palm Bay, FL|
|43||Santa Ana, CA|
|43||Chula Vista, CA|
|43||San Mateo, CA|
|44||Los Angeles, CA|
|44||Jersey City, NJ|
|45||Cape Coral, FL|
|47||Santa Monica, CA|
|49||Santa Maria, CA|
|50||Moreno Valley, CA|
|50||South Gate, CA|
|51||El Paso, TX|
|51||Pembroke Pines, FL|
|52||San Antonio, TX|
|55||St. Petersburg, FL|
|56||Santa Rosa, CA|
|58||New Orleans, LA|
|58||El Cajon, CA|
|59||Corpus Christi, TX|
|59||Salt Lake City, UT|
|60||St. Louis, MO|
|61||San Bernardino, CA|
|62||New York, NY|
|63||Garden Grove, CA|
|65||Rancho Cucamonga, CA|
|67||Ann Arbor, MI|
|71||Huntington Beach, CA|
|71||Simi Valley, CA|
|76||Fort Lauderdale, FL|
|77||Pompano Beach, FL|
|78||Fort Smith, AR|
|80||West Covina, CA|
|82||Costa Mesa, CA|
|85||Little Rock, AR|
|86||Newport News, VA|
|87||Des Moines, IA|
|88||Green Bay, WI|
|95||Boca Raton, FL|
|97||Baton Rouge, LA|
|97||Coral Springs, FL|
|101||Mission Viejo, CA|
|104||Cedar Rapids, IA|
|106||El Monte, CA|
|107||Thousand Oaks, CA|
|109||Miami Gardens, FL|
|113||West Palm Beach, FL|
|117||New Haven, CT|
|119||Santa Barbara, CA|
|120||Sandy Springs, GA|
|126||New Bedford, MA|
|127||Fall River, MA|
|135||Miami Beach, FL|
Ask the Experts
Economic indicators point to a strong housing market, but does that mean it’s a good time to buy a home? We consulted a panel of experts for their insight. Click on the panelists’ profiles below to read their bios and thoughts on the following key questions:
- Is now a good time to buy a home? What economic indicators should potential buyers be watching?
- How has the pandemic affected housing prices and the home-buying process? What changes should we expect on the housing market during the upcoming months?
- Are foreign buyers driving up the cost of U.S. real estate? Which cities are most affected?
- How likely is it that the Federal Reserve will increase interest rates in the coming months? How will this impact the housing market?
- Why are Millennials still sitting out of the housing market? What can be done to increase homeownership rates for this cohort?
- In evaluating the healthiest housing markets, what are the top five indicators?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the best real-estate markets, WalletHub compared 300 cities across two key dimensions, “Real-Estate Market” and “Affordability & Economic Environment.”
We evaluated those dimensions using 24 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the healthiest housing market.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Each city in our sample was categorized according to the following population-size guidelines:
- Large city: More than 300,000 residents
- Midsize city: 150,000 to 300,000 residents
- Small city: Fewer than 150,000 residents
Real-Estate Market – Total Points: 80
- Home Value Forecast: Full Weight (~5.16 Points)
Note: This metric is based on Zillow’s Home Value Forecast, which predicts the Zillow Home Value Index one year from June 2020.
- Median Home-Price Appreciation: Full Weight (~5.16 Points)
- Average Number of Days Until a House Is Sold: Full Weight (~5.16 Points)
- Share of Homes Selling for a Gain: Full Weight (~5.16 Points)
- Share of Listings with Price Cuts: Full Weight (~5.16 Points)
- Share of ‘Underwater’ Homes: Full Weight (~5.16 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of homes with negative equity.
- Home Sales Turnover Rate: Full Weight (~5.16 Points)
- Ratio of Rent Price to Sale Price: Full Weight (~5.16 Points)
- Foreclosure Rate: Full Weight (~5.16 Points)
- Share of Foreclosure Re-sales: Half Weight (~2.58 Points)
- Share of People Delinquent on their Mortgage Debt: Full Weight (~5.16 Points)
- Number of Bank-Held Homes for Every 10,000 Homes: Full Weight (~5.16 Points)
Note: This metric refers to unsold Real Estate Owned - or REO - housing units.
- Vacancy Rate: Full Weight (~5.16 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Vacant Housing Units / Total Housing Units.
- Buy vs. Rent Breakeven Horizon: Full Weight (~5.16 Points)
Note: The “breakeven horizon” is defined by Zillow as the point, in years, at which buying a home becomes less expensive than renting the same home.
- Share of Young Homes: Full Weight (~5.16 Points)
Note: “Young Homes” refer to housing units built between 2010 and 2018.
- Building-Permit Activity: Full Weight (~5.16 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of unit permits pulled per 1,000 residents.
Affordability & Economic Environment – Total Points: 20
- WalletHub “States with the Best Health Infrastructure for Coronavirus” Score: Triple Weight (~5.45 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “States with the Best Health Infrastructure for Coronavirus” ranking.
- Housing Affordability: Double Weight (~3.64 Points)
Note: This metric measures home price as share of income.
- Maintenance Affordability: Full Weight (~1.82 Points)
Note: This metric measures maintenance costs as share of income.
- Population Growth Rate: Full Weight (~1.82 Points)
- Job Growth Rate: Full Weight (~1.82 Points)
- Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~1.82 Points)
- Underemployment Rate: Full Weight (~1.82 Points)
- Median Credit Score: Full Weight (~1.82 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Council for Community and Economic Research, Zillow, TransUnion, Chmura Economics & Analytics, Renwood RealtyTrac and WalletHub research.
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