When it comes to home values these days, the middle is not a bad place to be.

Check out median-priced homes around the country and you’ll find a wealth of choices — in age and square footage to condition and features.

“You get your clunkers that need a ton of work, and you get your cream puffs that are ready to go,” says Barbara Corcoran, real estate expert and founder of The Corcoran Group, a New York-based real estate firm.

But buyers targeting median-priced homes usually have one thing in common, says Corcoran, “They are first-time homebuyers, with rare exception.”

Median-priced homes are the monkey-in-the-middle. By definition, half the houses sold in an area will sell below that amount, half will bring a higher price.

And the median price, “is almost always a reliable indicator” for home values in the area, says Corcoran.

The national median price in the fall of 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors was $177,900 — down from $200,400, or slightly more than 11 percent, during the same period in 2008.

“It’s become fashionable to be frugal,” says Ron Phipps, president-elect of the National Association of Realtors. Buyers are thinking hard about the cost of heating, cooling, maintaining and paying for every square foot they buy. As a result, he says, “They’re not buying anything they don’t need.”

Bankrate looked at median-priced homes in 12 metro areas, from New York, where the median is $389,100 to Omaha, Neb., where it’s $137,600.

We found buyers have a lot of options in the median range this year — from luxury one-bedroom condos to full family homes with all the trimmings. Take a look:

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