Fourth-shortest break-even period: Riverside, Calif.
Located some 60 miles east of Los Angeles, the Riverside area offers property buyers quick break-evens compared with renting because home prices there are soaring.
Zillow estimates the median Riverside home's value has risen 16.3% over the past year to reach $210,100 -- with another 17.2% gain forecast for the next 12 months.
Gudell says that beats paying the $1,588 a month that Zillow estimates the typical Riverside rental costs. "[Big price appreciation] gives you a very short break-even period," she says.
Would-be buyers will find that some
1,400 Riverside properties
are for sale.