Most of the cities on this list missed the market bust where home prices continued to rise steadily after the rest of the U.S. went belly up. These particular cities were able to diversify their economies, have low unemployment rates and foreclosure in comparison to the national rates and are seeing rising population and enjoying growth.
One city of the top 5 on this list, Cape Coral, FL. did indeed go bust, but is beginning to recover. Home prices are still historically low there and investors and new home owners are flooding in to pick up these incredible prices. As more foreclosures hit the market, there is no real indication that prices will sky rocket anytime soon, so those savvy buyers can rest assured they will continue to score for at the least the immediate future.
All of the metropolitan areas ranked had a population of at least 200,000. Change in home prices reflects the one-year period through September 30, 2011, when the national average was -2.6% and the median home price was $171,250. The report reflects the change since the national peak in home prices, in the second quarter of 2006. Sales and inventory numbers were drawn from the most current market reports (October or November 2011). Unemployment rate data was taken as of October 2011, when the national average was 8.5%. Foreclosure rate was as of September 30, 2011, when the national average rate was 1 of every 213 housing units, or 0.47%.
5. Rochester, N.Y.
One-year change in home prices: 7.1%
Median home price: $114,900
Change in price since peak: 6.7%
Unemployment rate: 6.7%
Foreclosure rate: 1 of every 2,220 housing units (0.05%)
Home prices rose 7.1% in Rochester over the past year.
Sales rose during the past year, inventory fell to a 4.5 month supply -- balanced between buyers and sellers -- and home prices grew more during that time than they did in the six years since the local housing market's peak. Unemployment is relatively low, and foreclosures are hard to find.
4. Utica-Rome, N.Y.
One-year change in home prices: 8.8%
Median home price: $94,700
Change in price since peak: 16.2%
Unemployment rate: 7.1%
Foreclosure rate: 1 of every 9,757 housing units (0.01%)
While the national housing market ran like the hare, Utica (and most of upstate New York) plugged along like the tortoise, with slow and steady home-price increases and no lending or speculative bubble. Its rate of foreclosure is minuscule, and unemployment stands below the national average. Prices have seen a bump up in the past year along with increased sales.
3. Ann Arbor, Mich.
One-year change in home prices: 9.4%
Median home price: $185,000
Change in price since peak: -28.6%
Unemployment rate: 5.7%
Foreclosure rate: 1 of every 196 housing units (0.51%)
Ann Arbor boasts the lowest rate of unemployment and the highest per capita income in Michigan. It also has a moderate rate of foreclosure. Sales have been stable, single-family homes have been selling fast (71 days on the market in November), and the months' supply of homes is at the high end of balanced between buyer and seller.
2. Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn.
One-year change in home prices: 10.0%
Median home price: $497,500
Change in price since peak: -56.9%
Unemployment rate: 7.8%
Foreclosure rate: 1 of every 502 housing units (0.20%)
Even though the median home price here approaches $500,000, that's less than half of the price at the peak. And that counts as vastly improved affordability for the residents of tony Fairfield County, home to investment management companies and hedge funds, where the median household income is nearly $80,000. Sales through June 2011 were up by about one-fifth from the year earlier, before falling somewhat in the traditionally slower fall months, and inventory stands at about eight months' supply, still a buyer's market. The rate of foreclosure is low, but job growth needs to improve to shore up buyer confidence and demand.
1. Cape Coral-Ft. Myers, Fla.
One-year change in home prices: 12.1%
Median home price: $100,000
Change in price since peak: -63.4%
Unemployment rate: 10.7%
Foreclosure rate: 1 of every 92 housing units (1.09%)
epitomized the housing boom and bust, so it's quite interesting to see it rank first among cities where prices have risen most. That's especially true given that the rates of unemployment and foreclosure remain high and distressed properties still constitute half of all sales in the metro area, which ordinarily would exert downward pressure on demand and prices.
Sales in this appealing area, with its 400 miles of waterways and access to the Gulf of Mexico beaches, islands and fishing grounds, are steady (and traditionally rise with the arrival of winter snowbirds). The region has just four months' supply of homes for sale, but that figure varies greatly by locale and property type.