Least Expensive Housing Markets

Although Detroit recently declared bankruptcy, the city wasn't even the least expensive housing market based on May's median sales prices. Not all the markets here are troubled, though. One would make a good retirement spot.

Although Detroit recently declared bankruptcy, the troubled city wasn’t even the least expensive housing market in May, according to Bloomberg.

The housing markets show that the housing recovery varies across the country. Some saw the median sales price of home increase by as much as 15% or as little as 2%. One market even reported that the median sales price in May was down from a year ago, which might mean that it either hasn’t hit the bottom yet, or that it’s starting another downward slide.

Bloomberg used data from Zillow to rank the cities with the least expensive houses based on median sales price in May 2013. Population figures cited below are from the 2010 census.

10. Lansing, Mich.

Median sales price: $123,000

Year-over-year change: 3.3%

Population: 114,297

Lansing is just the first entry from Michigan to make it onto this list. While housing is inexpensive, the Philly Fed released coincident indexes that showed the state’s economy is on the decline. As of April 2013, the unemployment rate in Lansing was 10.1%, well above the national average.

9. Canton, Ohio

Flickr

Median sales price: $122,600

Year-over-year change: 13.6%

Population: 73,007

At the beginning of the year, Canton had reported a 120% increase in foreclosures, making it the city with the largest month-over-month increase in foreclosures.

8. Lakeland, Fla.

Lake Mirror. Photo by Mike Russell.

Median sales price: $121,400

Year-over-year change: 15.3%

Population: 97,422

In February 1 in every 374 homes received a foreclosure filing. Although that was an 11% decrease from the previous month, it was still one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country at that time.

7. Spartanburg, S.C.

Morgan Square

Median sales price: $119,300

Year-over-year change: 14.7%

Population: 180,786

The foreclosure rate in South Carolina is 14%, which is significantly higher than the national average of 1%, and unemployment in Spartanburg is 8.7%. Although housing in Spartanburg is inexpensive, the median household income in 2009 was $31,866, compared to the national average of $49,777.

6. Mobile, Ala.

Bienville Square

Median sales price: $118,900

Year-over-year change: 2.3%

Population: 195,111

The unemployment rate in Mobile is 7.2%, which is slightly better than the nation’s, but still nothing to brag about. Plus, the unemployment rate has been fairly volatile over the last few months.

5. Augusta, Ga.

Riverwalk. Photo by Country Hearth Inn.

Median sales price: $117,200

Year-over-year change: -4.6%

Population: 195,844

Just because a housing recovery has been reported doesn’t mean it is taking place equally all over the country. Clearly the recovery hasn’t hit August yet as this is the only housing market on the list where housing prices were still falling as of May 2013.

4. Toledo, Ohio

Harvard Circle

Median sales price: $116,500

Year-over-year change: $3.9%

Population: 287,208

While Toledo is inexpensive right now (possibly because it ranks 10th for most foreclosures), buyers should beware: Toledo is the 14th biggest prospective housing bubble. Basically, housing prices are increasing, but so is unemployment, which is a bad combination.

3. Detroit, Mich.

Residential Woodbridge neighborhood. Photo by Andrew Jameson.

Median sales price: $110,500

Year-over-year change: 6.5%

Population: 713,777

Business Insider recently reported on the class of young professionals moving to Detroit to take in all the city has to offer while living in large, affordable housing. Keep in mind that Detroit is troubled right now with a 16% unemployment rate and reports that thieves will break into houses to strip them of anything of value if the house is empty for just one day. (And don’t forget that bankruptcy issue.)

2. Rockford, Ill.

The Symbol sculpture. Photo by Jason Ippolito.

Median sales price: $108,300

Year-over-year change: 12.8%

Population: 152,871

In January 1 in every 265 homes were being foreclosed on, which represented nearly a 40% increase over the previous month. As of April 2013 the unemployment rate was a high 10.9%.

1. Ocala, Fla.

Median sales price: $105,300

Year-over-year change: 2.7%

Population: 56,517

In January, foreclosures in Ocala were up 16.75%, which meant that 1 in every 223 homes were being foreclosed on. Unlike some of the other inexpensive cities that have a lot of unemployment, the rate is just 6.9% in Ocala — better than the national average of 7.6%