Housing Market Looking Up Across the Country

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housing market recoveryMany consumers across the country have been struggling with the housing market, either because they want to buy and can't get a mortgage, or because they want to sell but home values aren't high enough to cover their underwater mortgages. However, new trends in the market may be helpful to both buyers and sellers.

During the month of August, the number of existing-home sales rose appreciably on both a monthly and year-over-year basis, as did the average price for this type of property, according to new housing-market data from the National Association of Realtors. For buyers, the sales of existing homes -- which includes single-family units, condominiums, townhouses and co-ops -- climbed 7.8 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis to 4.82 million, up from July's 4.47 million. It was also a more significant increase of 9.3 percent from the 4.41 million observed during August 2011.

Meanwhile, the median price for those properties climbed in August as well, rising 9.5 percent year-over-year to $187,400, the report said. It was the sixth consecutive month of annual increases, the first time that has happened since the period between December 2005 and May 2006, prior to the housing bubble's burst. Further, the increase seen last month was the largest since January 2006, when median prices climbed 10.2 percent.

These trends are encouraging to experts, who believe that there will be continual improvements in the housing market over the next several months at least, the report said. In fact, many believe that the increase in prices and sales could have mutually beneficial effects on each other at least through the end of next year.

"Total sales this year will be 8 to 10 percent above 2011, but some buyers are frustrated with mortgage availability," said Moe Veissi, president of the NAR and broker-owner of Miami-based Veissi and Associates Inc. "If most of the financially qualified buyers could obtain financing, home sales would be about 10 to 15 percent stronger, and the related economic activity would create several hundred thousand jobs over the period of a year."

The Federal Reserve Board already has committed to keeping interest rates, particularly on mortgages, at around their current low levels for some time, and as a consequence, that could encourage more people who are thinking about buying to look into how affordable the process might be for them.

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Housing Market Looking Up Across the Country

Home price as percentage of income: 152%
Median home price: $99,000
Median family income: $65,300

Lansing is the first of five (six, if parts of the South Bend region are included) metropolitan areas located in Michigan to make this list. Home prices in the area are expected to rise by an average of 5.8 percent annually between 2012 and 2017, among the top third projected increases in the country. The median home price is just south of $99,000, or $60,000 less than the median home price in the United States.

Read more at 24/7 Wall St.

Photo: Flickr/mwlguide

Home price as percentage of family income: 152%
Median home price: $108,000
Median family income: $70,900

The median home price in Appleton of $108,000 is higher than any metro area on this list, but it is still well below the U.S. median home price of $159,000. Home prices have consistently been cheap in the area for years. The median price between 2007 and 2012 only declined by 4.9 percent, far less than the national drop of 33.3 percent.

Read more at 24/7 Wall St.

Photo: Flickr/.Larry Page

Home price as percentage of family income: 150%
Median home price: $79,000
Median family income: $52,300

The median family income in Battle Creek of $52,300 is the 23rd lowest among all metro areas surveyed. But with home prices the third cheapest of all metro areas, buying a home is quite affordable. Home prices were relatively cheap before the economic downturn, too. Prices fell by 16.1 percent from their peak in the second quarter of 2006 to the first quarter of 2012, a far more modest decline than the nationwide home price drop of about 33 percent.

Read more at 24/7 Wall St.

Photo: Flickr/battlecreekcvb

Home price as % of family income: 150%
Median home price: $80,000
Median family income: $53,300

Homes in the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area are affordable, even for those with modest incomes. While median family income in the region is $9,600 lower than the national median income, median home prices are even lower — the fifth lowest in the country.

Read more at 24/7 Wall St.

Photo: Flickr/Vibrant Northeast Ohio

Home price as % of family income: 141%
Median home price: $89,000
Median family income: $62,900

The median family income in Monroe is the same as the median family income in the United States. But the median home price of $89,000 is $60,000 lower than the U.S. median home price.

Read more at 24/7 Wall St.

Photo: Flickr/rkramer62

Home price as percentage of family income: 139%
Median home price: $79,000
Median family income: $56,900

Memphis is the only metropolitan area on this list not located in the Midwest. While home prices of $79,000 are the third lowest of all metropolitan areas measured, home prices are expected to rise at an annual rate of 6 percent between 2012 and 2017, more than 2 percentage points more than the national median. Home prices are expected to rise 8.6 percent next year alone, one of the biggest growth rates in the country.

Read more at 24/7 Wall St.

Photo: Flickr/NathanReed

Home price as percentage of family income: 133%
Median home price: $95,000
Median family income: $71,600

In the Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills metro area, the combined factors of high income and low home prices can make paying for a house easy. The median family income of $71,600 is the highest on this list and nearly $20,000 higher than the nearby Detroit metro. Furthermore, the median home price of $95,000, which has fallen 40.9 percent since it reached its peak in the second quarter of 2005, means that homes have become a bargain for those who can afford to buy one in this shaky economy.

Read more at 24/7 Wall St.

Photo: Flickr/ellenm1

Home price as percentage of family income: 132%
Median home price: $80,000
Median family income: $60,000

Median home prices in Rockford are only expected to rise by 2.4 percent in 2013, less than the 5 percent price increase expected nationally. However, between 2012 and 2017, home prices are expected to grow at an annualized rate of 4.2 percent, besting the U.S. rate of 3.9 percent.

Read more at 24/7 Wall St.

Photo: Flickr/vxla

Home price as percentage of family income: 121%
Median home price: $69,000
Median family income: $57,300

The median monthly mortgage payment for a house in South Bend is only 5.52 percent of the median monthly income. This is the only metro area in the United States, besides Detroit, where mortgage payments are less than 6 percent of median income.

Read more at 24/7 Wall St.

Photo: Flickr/davidwilson1949

Home price as percentage of family income: 79%
Median home price: $41,000
Median family income: $51,900

While home prices were already cheap in Detroit before the housing downturn, they became even cheaper after. Home prices between the first quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2012 fell a whopping 53.7 percent, or 14.3 percent annually — the 10th-largest drop of all metro areas surveyed. With a median home price that is $28,000 lower than any other metro area reviewed, a median mortgage payment is only 3.6 percent of monthly income.

Read more at 24/7 Wall St.

Photo: Flickr/Dave Hogg

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