But does affordability alone always equate desirability?
Coldwell Banker released on Wednesday its first Home Listing Report, which surveyed 18,000 four-bedroom, two-bathroom homes from nearly 300 markets. The results show a $1.7 million divide between America's most expensive and most affordable markets for what many buyers would consider "dream homes." The average home listing price in Newport Beach was $1.8 million, while Detroit homes ran an average $68,000. The national average was approximately $353,000.
California dominated the most expensive end of the spectrum with six markets in the top 10. But these trends don't preclude the possibility of finding good deals in California, or in other ostensibly expensive states, said Coldwell Banker CEO Jim Gillespie.
"Even though these markets are very high end, if you look at the average sales price, it's less than a third of Santa Barbara, and a sixth of Newport Beach," he told HousingWatch. "Just because these particular markets are high priced, doesn't mean there's no value out there."
In total, nearly 30 percent of the markets surveyed showed average listing prices of less than $200,000, and over 60 percent that averaged less than $300,000.
Browse through photos of millions of home listings or search foreclosure listings The most affordable markets were all in the Midwest, ranging in price from about $116,000 in Topeka, Kans., to $68,000 in Detroit.
"The Rust Belt has been hardest hit by the economy," Gillespie said. "The national economy has been hurting for two years, real estate's been down for five, and that part of the country has been down for most of this century."
It's important to keep in mind, though, that these price points are for four-bedroom, two-bathroom "aspirational homes," said Gillespie, and many of them are exceptionally priced.
But what should consumers make of these figures if they live in a market that wasn't featured? The findings are especially useful for renters who could be spending nearly the same price for a mortgage on a home of their own.
For renters with stable income and savings for down payment, owning has never been more affordable. And while Gillespie says homeowners shouldn't consider moving to a new market unless they've found stable employment, now is the time to consider home purchases that had otherwise been inaccessible during the boom years.
In Detroit, for a $68,000 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4 percent interest, a homeowner would spend just $325 a month in principal and interest -- far less than the average rent, to say the least.
To view a full listing of the report and an approximation of what your home is worth across Coldwell Banker's listings, visit their Home Listing Report site.
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