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Real Estate Guide 2007
Analysis by region
National statistics are meaningful, but in real estate "location, location, location" means local trends trump all.
Analysis by region
South basks in real estate sunshine
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Farther north and inland, Orlando buyers are seeing median prices of $272,100, according to NAR's most recent statistics.

Some of the areas that include some of least expensive median home prices in the South, according to the most recent sales figures from the NAR:

  • Cumberland Md./W.Va. – $98,000
  • Amarillo, Texas – $108,300
  • Charleston, W.Va. – $114,300
  • Beaumont/Port Arthur, Texas – $120,000

And some of the most expensive median homes in the region are in:

  • Washington, D.C./Arlington/Alexandria, (D.C., Va., Md.) – $421,600
  • Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Miami Beach – $366,800
  • Sarasota/Bradenton/Venice, Fla. – $301,300
  • Baltimore/Towson, Md. – $277,900

In 2007, Florida, which has some of the region's most expensive areas, "may see some price declines" of as much as 5 to 10 percent during the first six months of 2007, says Yun. Over the entire year, prices in the state could grow 0 to 2 percent, he says.

For the region, look for price increases of 4 to 6 percent in 2007, he says.

Southerners are also spending a smaller than average portion of their income on their mortgage payments. In the South, a home owner devotes approximately 20.7 percent of income to that mortgage check, according to NAR numbers. The national average is 23.6 percent. 

But higher interest rates help make homeownership slightly more expensive in the South. Southerners paid the highest rate of any region: 6.51 percent in 2006, according to NAR data. (The Northeast and Midwest tied for lowest rates with 6.39 percent.)

The difference is minimal. On a $181,700 home (the region's median price) after 20 percent down, that amounts to $4,121 over the life of a 30-year mortgage or just over $11 a month.

Even though the prices aren't the lowest in the country, the South has the sunniest picture for would-be homeowners this year, says Yun. A combination of affordable prices, job growth above the national average, and relatively low interest rates mean that "if people have jobs they can own a home if they have good credit," Yun says.

Related story: See what $400,000 will buy across the country.

-- Posted: March 8, 2007
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