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5 Top Cities for Real Estate Investors in 2012

Fifth-best market: Wichita, Kan.
Projected 2012 price gains: 4.1%
Booming crop prices are boosting housing prices and rents in the Sunflower State's largest city.

"Wichita is seeing things improve mainly because of high prices paid for crops, which means there are more folks to buy homes," Colpitts says.

The city also hosts so many aviation companies that it's known as "The World's Air Capital."

Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft, Bombardier Learjet, Spirit AeroSystems (SPR - Get Report) and other airplane and aviation-parts makers all have major operations in Wichita. ( Boeing (BA - Get Report) also has a plant in 630,000-population metro area, but recently announced plans to close the site next year.) Wichita also hosts two well-known privately held companies: camping-equipment maker Coleman and diversified conglomerate Koch Industries.

Additionally, the city is home to three large schools -- the University of Wichita, Friends University and Newman University.

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