66 cities to buy, Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice

July 9, 2008

With house prices falling around the country, many renters are wondering if this is the time to jump in and score a deal.

The answer, of course, depends on where you live. In much of the U.S., you’re better off buying despite falling home values, say new data compiled by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Even more interesting to potential homebuyers is the chance to build equity. Here, too, there’s good news for many major metros. In 66 of the top 100 markets, you’d be in the black in four years should you buy a low-priced home today.

Safe doesn’t mean profitable, however. With prices falling in many markets, housing is too risky these days to expect you’ll make money on a house deal, experts caution. The object now is to avoid losing money.

“Don’t expect these markets to take off,” says Danilo Pelletiere, research director for the National Low Income Housing Coalition and co-author of the study, “Ownership, Rental Costs and the Prospects of Building Home Equity.”

“The housing boom passed them by because, in many cases, not much is happening in these towns.”

Buyers should look at the purchase as a conservative investment that’s unlikely to pay off like an oil-patch scheme and may even lose value, Pelletiere, says. Base the decision on more than profit, on intangibles like the chance to build stability, to join a community, to enjoy a neighborhood or love living in a particular home.

“I wouldn’t want anybody to interpret this data as saying here’s where you should put your money”, Pelletiere says. “What I am saying is, if you want to put your money into a home, these are the cities where owning makes sense.”

How much equity you’d have by 2012 if you bought a low-priced home today…

Metro area

6% loan

7% loan

8% loan

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas

$90,437

$89,871

$89,381

San Antonio

$90,017

$89,064

$88,239

New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La. 

$88,907

$87,473

$86,232

Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas 

$87,837

$86,703

$85,721

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas 

$83,880

$82,669

$81,620

Rochester, N.Y. 

$82,898

$81,898

$81,032

Syracuse, N.Y. 

$80,231

$79,341

$78,571

Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y. 

$77,934

$77,045

$76,275

Jackson, Miss.

$77,648

$76,659

$75,804

Austin-Round Rock, Texas

$70,007

$68,530

$67,251

Memphis, Tenn.-Mississippi-Arkansas *

$68,348

$67,286

$66,367

Baton Rouge, La. 

$61,802

$60,648

$59,651

Pittsburgh

$61,174

$60,221

$59,397

Tulsa, Okla. 

$58,599

$57,624

$56,780

Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark. 

$58,420

$57,416

$56,548

Augusta, Ga.-Richmond County, S.C. 

$57,424

$ 56,465

$55,636

Lakeland, Fla.

$56,960

$55,793

$54,784

Columbia, S.C

$55,993

$54,936

$54,022

El Paso, Texas 

$55,100

$54,316

$53,637

Akron, Ohio 

$54,594

$53,410

$52,387

Greensboro-High Point, N.C. 

$54,592

$53,463

$52,485

Oklahoma City 

$54,431

$53,475

$52,648

Youngstown-Warren, Ohio-Boardman, Pa. 

$54,014

$53,176

$52,450

Wichita, Kan. 

$53,684

$52,764

$51,968

Dayton, Ohio 

$51,393

$50,327

$49,405

Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich. 

$50,599

$49,241

$48,067

Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind. 

$49,520

$48,330

$47,300

Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y. 

$49,104

$47,630

$46,355

Omaha, Neb.-Council Bluffs, Iowa 

$47,823

$46,654

$45,643

Birmingham-Hoover, Ala. 

$47,404

$46,276

$45,300

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. 

$46,314

$44,730

$43,360

Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 

$46,251

$45,254

$44,391

Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa 

$46,078

$44,844

$43,776

Kansas City, Mo.-Kansas City, Kan. 

$45,699

$44,413

$43,300

Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio 

$45,251

$44,025

$42,964

Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich.

$44,484

$43,304

$42,282

Toledo, Ohio 

$44,009

$42,928

$41,992

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. 

$41,847

$40,237

$38,843

Chattanooga, Tenn.-Georgia *

$41,025

$39,955

$39,029

Cincinnati-Middletown, Ind.-Kentucky  *

$40,454

$39,184

$38,086

Greenville-Mauldin-Easley, S.C. 

$40,268

$39,169

$38,218

Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa. 

$37,456

$36,168

$35,054

Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, Maine 

$37,197

$35,204

$33,479

New Haven-Milford, Conn. 

$36,521

$34,284

$32,348

Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Fla. 

$36,217

$34,643

$33,281

Charleston-North Charleston, S.C. 

$35,592

$34,062

$32,738

Louisville-Jefferson County, Ky.-Indiana *

$33,003

$31,809

$30,775

St. Louis -Illinois *

$32,933

$31,630

$30,503

Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, Fla. 

$31,544

$29,577

$27,875

Charlotte-Gastonia, N.C.-Concord, S.C. 

$29,919

$28,524

$27,318

Columbus, Ohio 

$28,982

$27,628

$26,457

Albuquerque, N.M. 

$28,805

$27,356

$26,102

Jacksonville, Fla. 

$26,832

$25,241

$23,863

Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn. 

$26,567

$25,181

$23,982

Knoxville, Tenn. 

$24,862

$23,663

$22,625

Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla. 

$23,090

$21,467

$20,063

Richmond, Va. 

$21,500

$19,740

$18,217

Raleigh-Cary, N.C. 

$19,004

$17,386

$15,985

Springfield, Mass. 

$16,338

$14,591

$13,079

Philadelphia-Camden, N.J.-Wilmington, Del. -Maryland *

$14,492

$12,532

$10,836

Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn. 

$13,494

$11,405

$9,598

Allentown-Bethlehem, Pa.-Easton, N.J. 

$12,779

$11,063

$9,578

Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis. 

$12,745

$11,076

$9,632

Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-North Carolina  *

$10,449

$8,515

$6,842

Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla. 

$9,400

$7,433

$5,730

Colorado Springs, Colo. 

$4,482

$2,736

$1,224

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