Syndicated — The 2012 buying and selling season is well underway and the housing market is finally showing signs of life. Agents are sharing stories of bidding wars in many markets as buyers are getting off the fence, ready to capitalize on still-record low levels of affordability.
So is now really a good time to buy? In many markets yes, and some places are better markets for buyers than others.
Knowing that some people might still be wary of dipping their toes in the real estate market, we looked at the places where it makes a lot of sense to buy if you live there. To determine our Best Places to Buy in 2012 list, we gave equal weight to several factors including:
- housing prices compared to local incomes
- home value trends (where home values have been stabilizing or rising over the past year and past quarter)
- unemployment rates and the change in unemployment rates over the past year
- whether buying makes more sense than renting.
One caveat - just because your city didn't rise to the top of our list doesn't mean you shouldn't buy there. If you're planning to live in your home at least 5-7 years and have good credit, now can be a great time to buy in many markets.
Grand Rapids, MI
Home values are on the upswing in Grand Rapids, increasing on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis according to Zillow's Home Value Index (ZHVI). Home values are up 4.8 percent from April last year.The median home value is $108,000 which compares favorably with median incomes in the area. The unemployment picture is also improving in Grand Rapids, falling nearly 2 percent this past year.
843 Mayhew Wood Dr SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49507 (below)
For sale: $129,900
This updated Alger Heights home is in an established neighborhood and has 3 beds, 2 baths and contains 1,551 square feet. Renovated kitchen has maple cabinets and granite tile counters. The flooring features natural slate, hardwood and newer carpeting.