By Meena Thiruvengadam | BHG.Com
Troy Warren for CNT
In the 2021 housing market, real estate has become so competitive that bidding wars and cash offers are commonplace. Here are the areas in the U.S. where you can still find an affordable home.
It’s no secret that real estate has become extremely competitive in many areas of the United States. Bidding wars, cash offers, and personal pleas of all kinds have become parts of the housing market as much as saving for a down payment, finding a lender, and signing piles of paperwork. But there are still a few places in the U.S. where home buyers can catch a break.
While U.S. home prices continue to rise nationwide, the National Realtors Association has identified several markets where home price increases have been less steep—and inventories less squeezed.
To come up with its comprehensive list, the National Realtors Association looked for cities of more than 50,000 people where home prices had risen less than 10% over the past year. It limited each state to one city to include a broader range of geographies and factored in the number of available real estate listings.
“It’s not necessarily fun to be in one of the most competitive markets in the country,” says Danielle Hale, the National Realtors Association’s chief economist.
One tip she has for homebuyers in particularly competitive markets? Look at nearby places that could provide realistic alternatives. “They can be very affordable, but still not too far away from the cities you might want to be in,” she says.
Skip pricey West Coast markets.
Other places on the National Realtor Assotiation’s list of best markets for buyers include: Iowa City, Iowa; Stamford, Connecticut; and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
“The South, Midwest, and Northeast is where we tend to find more affordability and also more listings,” Hale says. “The markets out West have recently been moving super fast-—especially in alternatives to the traditional pricey markets.”
Notable is the fact that no city west of Las Cruces, New Mexico, made the list—and only a few locations are even west of the Mississippi River.
Consider nearby communities.
A 12.5% decrease in listing prices over the past year earned Hoboken, New Jersey—which had just nine listings available for every 1,000 area households—a spot on the list.
Hoboken is just across the river from Manhattan, making it a popular alternative to New York City. And while Hoboken’s median March listing price of $784,500 isn’t exactly cheap, prices are lower than across the Hudson River in the heart of the city that never sleeps.
Find bargains in college towns.
To find a home for less than $300,000, consider Springfield, Illinois, where the median listing price in March was $121,450—a 4.2% decrease from the year prior. The Illinois capital is located in a state that’s been experiencing steep population declines. For homebuyers, that’s translated into better availability and affordability.
For warmer weather with your real estate deal, consider Tuscaloosa, Alabama—home of the University of Alabama. The median listing price in March was $248,700—an increase of just 3.2% from the previous year. Still, housing inventory in Tuscaloosa isn’t what it used to be: There were just eight home listings available per 1,000 residents in March. The properties that are becoming available in Tuscaloosa, however, are sitting on the market for an average of 46 days—giving buyers at least a little bit more breathing room in this booming real estate market.
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