Lending standards may be rigid and home prices tottering, but the silver lining of the housing bust continues to twinkle at homebuyers. Homes are now more affordable than they've been in 40 years, reports the Housing Predictor news site.
Still reeling from the bursting of the housing bubble in 2007, market prices have fallen to 2003 levels, according to Zillow. And as if that wasn't enough to entice buyers, borrowers are being dangled yet another incentive: Mortgage rates are at historic lows. The average rate of a 30-year-fixed mortgage dropped to 3.91 percent last week, matching the lowest on record.
But as much as one might expect these conditions to lead Americans to snatch up properties, impediments continue to stifle the market. Banks are now as conservative with their lending standards as they were once liberal. And they were really, really liberal. What's more, the bottom still isn't in sight in all markets.
After bidding farewell to 2011, Realtors, investors and regulators the world over are no doubt wondering: Will 2012 be the year the real estate market finally rides out the aftershocks of the housing bust and mounts a full-on recovery?
But even if home prices don't trend up nationwide, certain markets seem almost guaranteed to do well. Looking at a variety of sources, AOL Real Estate brings you 10 of this year's most promising housing markets for 2012.
Tech companies are driving job growth in Worcester, according to MSN Real Estate. That may help real estate prices, which slipped 3 percent this past year, but are expected to tick up 2 percent in 2013.
Spanning a generous 2,730 square feet, this alternatively colored home was built in 1987 and is equipped with its very own "game room," according to the listing.
Kansas seems to have fared better than most through the real estate storm. Another one of the state's major cities, Topeka is predicted to post the second-highest increase in real estate prices, according to Realtor magazine.
Here is a sprawling home in Topeka, one of the ritzier houses in town. The $429,000 home offers five bedrooms and 4,782 total square feet.
On the hunt for new digs in a market that's turned the corner of the housing slump? Look no further than Huntington, W.Va. HousingPredictor expects the town's real estate prices to climb by 4 percent this year.
A tip of the hat to DailyFinancefor directing us to Tacoma, Wash., a city whose real estate prices are set to skyrocket, according to a Fiserv prediction. The financial services information provider projects that prices in Tacoma will jump a staggering 24.9 percent.
Located in University Place, a suburb just outside of Tacoma, this listing offers a taste of the sort of homes that may benefit from the price boom.