You've probably heard it a million times recently: it's a buyer's market right now in real estate. That's actually a big understatement – it's a huge buyer's market. That's bad news for sellers, but good news for you if you're in the market for a new house (and can get financing). While there are attractive deals to be had nationwide, certain areas have a big inventory of affordable homes available now. You can see a full list of such places on HousingTracker.net, but here are some cities our experts have cited as being especially good choices for bargain-minded buyers.
IN PICTURES: 7 Tips On Buying A Home In A Down Market
This city has one of the strongest economies in the country right now, according to our experts.
"Good universities in the area have provided a skilled and educated workforce, which has positioned Phoenix as a competitive force in business," says Bill Humphrey, senior vice president and managing director of XONEX Relocation, which provides global relocation services for transferring employees.
"Phoenix is projected to see more growth, especially since the technology, green energy and healthcare/life sciences industries have started to put down roots in the area." Humphrey says houses that were selling for $500,000 before the recession are now in the $300,000 range. (With houses going cheap, there are bound to be problems. Find out more in Avoiding Foreclosure Scams.)
"The Houston market has a very diversified economy and is home to numerous industries including technology, energy, aerospace and aviation, logistics and manufacturing," Humphrey says. Humphrey credits Houston's solid employment numbers - and the projected growth - to its business-friendly environment, adding that the city's crime rates have seen double-digit decreases over the past ten years.
"There is lots of inventory available, and prices are still very reasonable."
Needless to say, the Big Easy is in a rebuilding period right now, in the wake of some challenging times. The silver lining: "the city has major growth potential and is on the cusp of a big renaissance," says Humphrey. "The community has really come together to rebuild its infrastructure, pride and spirits, making it a nice place to live. Also, Louisiana has shown the greatest unemployment improvement and New Orleans has the lowest jobless rate of any other metro city in its class."
While Humphrey admits there is still some work to be done, he says the city is headed in the right direction and smart shoppers will buy now. "Prices are low and inventory is available."
"Prices have tumbled dramatically, and there are multiple 'mini-mansions' available at bargain prices," says Robert Eisenstein of HomeRun Homes, which operates the Lease2Buy.com site targeting rent-to-own buyers and sellers.
"Most of the properties are not in need of anything more than a little bit of cosmetic work." Inventory seems to be plentiful in this area. According to HousingTracker, there are currently 87,000 single family homes and condos available in Atlanta.
The central Florida area has always been a hotspot for bargains, says Eisenstein, "but with the recent beating the market has taken, prices are lower than ever. There is a mix of very beautiful homes that don't need any work – and there are also homes that need some renovation, but the prices are reflective of this."
Several experts mentioned the Boston suburbs in general as a good place for great deals, but Haverhill in particular seems to have a lot to offer - no matter what your price range is.
"You can buy a brand new mid-level executive style home in the mid $380,000 to $450,000 range or find a first time buyer move-in condition property at around $170,000," says Lisa Johnson, vice president at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Haverhill. "Condominiums can be found in the $50,000 to $60,000 range."
Johnson says the area has a lot of great perks, from a thriving bar/club scene to a downtown restaurant district that can rival those of big cities.
"The MLS lists many properties selling for less than $50,000," says Diane Smith, a real estate agent and Lexicon Realty mortgage broker. "In the $100,000 range there are many houses selling for $10,000 to $20,000 under value as a result of foreclosures and other economic issues."
The Housing Bottom Line
If you're looking for a great deal – and want to explore exciting new areas – focusing on areas with high inventory and low prices can be your ticket to a fantastic bargain on your next home. (To learn more, check out 5 Tips For Recession House Hunters.)
Check out last week's business highlights in Water Cooler Finance: My iPad Beats Your Toyota.