5 Strong Real Estate Markets

These cities have bucked the national trend by posting gains in real estate prices.

Although no one’s suggesting the real estate market is sunshine and roses right now, statistics about declining home prices across the nation can be misleading.

It’s really important to look closely at individual cities, and even neighborhoods within those cities, to determine the state of the market rather than looking at national averages.

In fact, some real estate markets are not only remaining stable through this time of turmoil, they’re appreciating. While these cities are very different from each other, what they have in common is affordability of housing, which prevents the wide swings in price that you see in troubled parts of the country, and a strong local economy. According to the National Association of Realtors, these five metro areas are tops for real estate gains as of the fourth quarter of 2008...

Beaumont, Texas tops our list of strong real estate markets.

5. DECATUR, ILLINOIS

Median Price of a Single-Family Home, Dec. 2008: $79,300

Gain over Dec. 2007: 5.9%

Major employers: Archer Daniels Midland (agricultural), Decatur Memorial Hospital, St. Mary's Hospital

Decatur’s small-town appeal is magnified by the remarkable affordability of its housing and the low cost of living. The presence of the Archer Daniels Midland headquarters lays a secure foundation for the local economy. View Homes for Sale in Decatur

4. BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA

Median Price of a Single-Family Home, Dec. 2008: $164,300

Gain over Dec. 2007: 6.0%

Major employers: Bobcat, MedCenter One Health Systems, St. Alexius Medical Center

North Dakota is a lucky state enjoying a budget surplus in a time of national gloom and doom. Wheat is the state’s bread and butter, but a recent boom in oil production has kicked up the state’s economy, prompting a search for workers to fill empty posts. Bismarck leads the state with a stellar 3.1 percent unemployment rate (good for third in the nation, actually). 

3. DOVER, DELAWARE

Median Price of a Single-Family Home, Dec. 2008: $212,500

Gain over Dec. 2007: 6.5%

Major employers: U.S. military (Dover Air Force Base), Delaware Department of Transportation, Kent General Hospital

Dover has a steady economic base that can weather stormy times. Its largest employer is the United States military, and it’s also home to manufacturers of staple products such as Kraft Foods and Playtex. While Dover has a high cost of living and housing relative to the U.S. average, it’s quite affordable compared to other Northeastern cities like New York or Boston. 

2. BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL, ILLINOIS

Median Price of a Single-Family Home, Dec. 2008: $159,300

Gain over Dec. 2007: 9.6%

Major employers: State Farm Insurance, Illinois State University, Mitsubishi

The business of education can be a stabilizing economic force in tough times, and cities such as Bloomington that host colleges and universities tend to hold up well. Bloomington was chosen by Forbes Magazine as one of its 25 “smartest” U.S. cities in 2008, based on the degrees of education attained by its citizens. 

1. BEAUMONT-PORT ARTHUR, TEXAS

Median Price of a Single-Family Home, Dec. 2008: $132,600

Gain over Dec. 2007: 16.7%

Major employers: Port Arthur Independent School District, Huntsman Corporation (petrochemicals), Motiva Enterprises (oil refining)

The Beaumont-Port Arthur metro area had the biggest boom by far of any city in the NAR survey. A heavy stake in the energy economy is the main reason, with major projects in natural gas production on the horizon. Browse Real Estate Listings in Beaumont Texas

Other housing markets that were realizing gains or holding steady included Amarillo, Texas; Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Charleston, W.Va.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; El Paso, Texas; Florence, S.C.; Jackson, Miss.; Kankakee-Bradley, Ill.; Pittsfield, Mass.; Reading, Pa.; Shreveport-Bossier City, La.; Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Wichita, Kan.

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