by Broderick Perkins
(03/18/2010) If you are looking for a hot housing market, the South is rising again and the Lone Star State promises big things, according to Hanley Wood, a respected construction media outlet.
We'll spare you the full how-they-did-it details, and link you right to The 20 Healthiest Housing Markets for 2010 for the inside scoop, but based on projections for household formations, resale values, and job and income growth -- with some "secret sauce" (Really. They said that.) thrown in, Hanley came up with the towns most likely to emerge strongest from the extended, headachy, housing hangover.
(Hint: When you get to the full story, it reads like a countdown from No. 20. Instead, read it backwards, starting with Page 10 to get right to the top of the list.)
Without further ado, for Hanley Wood's Top 10 Healthiest Housing Markets for 2010, the envelope please.
1. Austin, TX -- Texas' capital city largely avoided the brunt of the recession because there was no home appreciation bubble to burst. What a novel idea. The town enjoys one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, was the second fastest growing metro area in the nation in 2008, and during the recession businesses relocating said "What recession?" Portfolio.com recently named Austin the most attractive location for young professionals out of 67 metro areas studied. Austin space is the place.
2. Raleigh-Cary, NC -- Another state capital, Raleigh is a sort of Silicon Valley East high-tech Mecca with Triangle Park and multiple universities to churn out a highly skilled workforce. In the works are an urban revitalization effort (that always lines them up around the block), housing permits up 46 percent in the fourth quarter year-over-year last year and expectations to regain most jobs lost last year.
3. Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC -- Housing prices in this banking center (Wachovia and Bank of America) were already stable last year, only inching down. Income levels actually rose in 2009. And households continued to form at a relatively high rate, compared to the rest of the country. The area is projected to add 2 percent more jobs this year. A glut of downtown condos were converted to rentals, but single-family permit activity began rising in the fourth quarter 2009.
4. San Antonio, TX -- Military installations still have their boots on the ground here and that's helped keep the region's unemployment rate around 7 percent. A 2.3 percent increase in jobs is projected. And just ask the tourists what's not to like about San Antonio? Riverwalk, the Alamo, the Spurs. It's a party town.
5. Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, SC -- Steeped in history, Charleston is the fastest growing city in South Carolina. That's because underlying demographic strength was an antidote to housing ills. Home prices fell only 4.2 percent last year. Both the military and the health sectors of the economy are strong -- well at least as long as we remain at war.
6. Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO -- Give the West some. In a mile-high town where some find it hard to find breathing room, there's apparently room for employment growth and household formations. Hanley says median home prices could continue to decline this year, but the population influx to this popular town should really pump up building permit activity.
7. Huntsville, AL -- One of the smallest metros in the "Top" list has a median home price of about $120,000. Along with several military installations, including NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command this town is going places.
8. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV -- If they can just get health insurance, financial regulations and political back-biting off the front pages... But seriously folks, the nation's capital had the second lowest unemployment rate last year on Hanley Wood's list of the 20 healthiest housing markets. Dee Cee can be an expensive place to live, but most of the residents are pretty loaded. Home prices here were hit hard early in the downturn and may fall more, but the worst is probably over.
9. Durham-Chapel Hill, NC -- This is one of only two markets on Hanley Wood's list that escaped the national pattern of home price deflation. Median home prices actually rose 2.7 percent last year. Nearly half a million people live in the famed Research Triangle area, which is home to the University of North Carolina and Duke University.
10. Eugene-Springfield, OR -- Eugene. Eugene. Eugene! Home prices may fall again this year, but only at half last year's rate, as the town continues to struggle. Home building permit activity is projected to more than double, if it continues at fourth quarter 2009 rates
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