What will $400,000 buy in 2009? That all depends on what you want. And, more importantly, where you want it.
"You can get a small one-bedroom in Brooklyn, a Georgian mansion in Georgia, or a rambling ranch in Southern California," says Barbara Corcoran, real estate expert and founder of The Corcoran Group, a New York-based real estate firm.
This year, that money buys more: more space, more special features, more yard and a better school district. "You definitely get an extra bedroom and bath in almost every market," says Corcoran.
At today's best rates, with a 30-year fixed mortgage, 10 percent down -- and excluding taxes, insurance, points and fees, and community dues -- a $400,000 price tag equals roughly $1,919 per month.
In 2009, buyers are enduring increasing scrutiny from lenders and are turning an equally keen eye on the condition of prospective properties. Sellers, courting fewer buyers in many markets, have stepped up their game. The result: Buyers are finding more homes in better condition.
"People are paying attention to a lot more details when selling and that's the buyers' advantage," says Corcoran. Moreover, they're having home inspections, and repairs, completed before the homes go on the market.
At the $400,000 level, many real estate agents report that homes that aren't in great condition don't make the cut with potential buyers. Facing a wealth of choices and a dearth of competition, buyers will simply move on to a property that's move-in ready.
"The bottom line is that every single one of us is getting more bang for our buck," says Corcoran.
Here's a look at what $400,000 will buy in various markets, from big cities to small towns, metro areas and suburbs, all across the country:
What you can buy for $400,000