No time like today for buyers… and renters
No time like today for buyers… and renters

Yeah, I know, you’ve been burnt by real estate in the past. Get over it! Stuart Elliott, editor-in-chief of The Real Deal, gave MainStreet the scoop on markets that are hot right now. These are the cities that are good values for buyers, in addition to several cities that may be a steal right now for renters. We’ll save the age-old “buy vs. rent” argument for another time … Regardless of whether you prefer to rent or throw-down, keep these markets on your real estate radar. Photo Credit: Getty Images

BUY: Boston
BUY: Boston

If you can handle the cold winters, Boston has a lot to offer. And according to Stuart Elliott, you should be in buy mode.“Like many cities, Boston has seen prices decline more than rents in the last several years, making buying a decent option. The Greater Boston Housing Report Card 2009 shows renters in the region pay an average of $1,629 a month, 11% more than four years ago, even though housing values dropped about 18% during the same period,” he explained. It’s simple: Renters are paying more, buyers are paying less. That makes buying worth considering in this market. Plus, our 8,000-year-old personal finance guru advocates owning your home. Photo Credit: pearbiter

BUY: Miami
BUY: Miami

South Beach should be enough of a reason to own part of Miami. The city might even have farther to fall before real estate values rise - bad news for those who are already owners, but great news for those new to the market. “Financial information firm Fiserv says prices are going to drop another 30% in Miami - amazing because the city has already been battered. So while prices might be cheap there, they could be even cheaper and represent a better buying opportunity in a year,” according to Elliott. Photo Credit: Flickr

BUY: Detroit
BUY: Detroit

“With some homes selling for $7,500 now, one could make a case that, unless it disappears off the face of the earth entirely, now might be a good time to buy an investment property in hard-hit Detroit,” Elliott says. Yes, unless Detroit falls into total chaos and society breaks down completely, $7,500 for your own home is a pretty outrageous steal—in every sense of the word. With prices that low, you can start collecting homes there for fun or profit. Photo Credit: Patricia Drury

BUY: Chicago
BUY: Chicago

Three reasons to buy in Chicago: a) proximity to Oprah b) major American cultural center and c) “bargain mansions.” As Elliott explains, “Prices on huge high-end homes in suburbs have gone way down due to too much supply, little demand – ‘bargain mansions.’” Photo Credit: siefken

BUY: Phoenix
BUY: Phoenix

Join John McCain in Arizona! Enjoy cool desert landscapes, own a cactus without seeming eccentric, and take advantage of great deals in the city of Phoenix. “This is one of the markets that has dropped the most in terms of price (down 25%) - one component of whether they might be good places to buy now just based on their total price declines (though there are other factors to consider - like whether they were way too inflated to begin with)." Photo Credit: Ken Lund

BUY: Las Vegas
BUY: Las Vegas

According to one MainStreet colleague, Las Vegas is home to “the dumbest people on Earth.” Maybe yes, maybe no. But this is for sure: Where else can you roll out of bed and be gambling — high stakes blackjack tables, none of that video poker nonsense — within minutes? Here’s why Elliott thinks you should consider this city a buy: “Prices here have dropped 29% in the past year, higher than Phoenix and even Detroit, making it a great place to buy a first- or second-home.” (And it’s a great place to raise a family?) Photo Credit: http2007

Good time to rent, too…
Good time to rent, too…

The brutal recession has been a boon for renters — assuming they still have jobs to pay rent at all. According to Elliott, “The national apartment-vacancy rate in the third quarter was 7.8%, the highest in 23 years, according to Reis Inc., a New York research firm. That oversupply is leading to lower rents.” Demand is low, supply is high - a bargain hunter’s paradise. Here are three cities to keep an eye on. Photo Credit: Getty Images

RENT: Manhattan
RENT: Manhattan

If you can make it here, you can… rent! “The average price of a Manhattan apartment is still around $1.3 million, despite the slowdown in the market. Renting is still a better option for most people, and landlords are offering one or two months free rent and paying for broker's fees in a lot of cases,” Elliott says. I can attest to this: When I moved into my current building they paid my broker fee, which is typically around 15% of the first year’s rent. It’s a large chunk of change, and it’s nice to have the owner pay it for you. Photo Credit: Getty Images

RENT: Chicago
RENT: Chicago

Turns out Chicago is also a good city for renters. “Downtown Chicago is still a renter’s market, with over 6% of apartments in two-to-four-unit buildings empty during 2009’s second quarter – and vacancy rates in areas of the city close to 10%,” according to Elliott. This is twice the normal vacancy rate. Photo Credit: Getty Images

RENT: San Francisco
RENT: San Francisco

Even if you haven’t left your heart there (yet), this city is a great place to rent. “The median home price here in December 2007 was $544,390 compared with today at $499,000.  This is not a very significant difference and still high in comparison with a vast majority of the U.S.,” Elliott says. Photo Credit: Getty Images

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