NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- The U.S. housing market's stormy times appear to be spilling into 2012 -- but a few silver linings are beginning to poke through the clouds.Market tracker HousingPredictor.com forecasts a 3.9% drop in median home prices nationwide this year, but its annual Best 25 Housing Markets study actually foresees values rising in dozens of locales. Study author Mike Colpittts says most areas with increasing prices have economies that focus on food or energy production, two sectors that are booming amid today's generally rising commodities values. "Energy rich states like North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas are doing better on the whole and make up a good number of cities in the best 25 markets," Colpitts says. "The Midwest is
Projected 2012 median home-price gain: 4.2%
This community of some 69,000 people boasts just 2.7% unemployment, thanks in part to North Dakota's booming oil-and-gas sector. A June flood along the Moose River damaged some 4,000 local homes, though, cutting Minot's housing stock just as demand was rising. As a result, HousingPredictor.com expects the city's median home price to rise 4.2% this year, to $88,670. "
Projected 2012 median home-price gain: 4.3%
Projected 2012 median home-price gain: 4.5%
HousingPredictor.com expects median home prices in West Virginia's capital to hit $94,045 during 2012 -- a 4.5% increase. "West Virginia has known hard economic times for decades, but lower home prices are a magnet for newcomers -- especially retirees seeking a lower cost of living," Colpitts says. In addition to hosting lots of state agencies, Charleston is home to Appalachian Power, Mountaineer Gas Co. and other large companies. The 304,000-person metro area also counts the University of Charleston and West Virginia State University as major employers, helping to give Greater Charleston a 6.8% jobless rate -- well below the national average.
Projected 2012 median home-price gain: 4.7%
The capital of Kansas, Topeka boasts 6.6% jobless rate and a diversified economy of agriculture, state-government agencies, local hospitals and more. Goodyear Tire ( GT) operates a large factory in the 230,000-person metro area, as does dog- and cat-food maker Hills Pet Nutrition and some other manufacturers. Topeka also hosts Washburn University, which has some 7,300 graduate and undergraduate students. "The economy is already enjoying the best times in decades,
Projected 2012 median home-price gain: 5.8%
"Record-high prices farmers are getting paid for corn used in the production of ethanol. Soy beans and livestock prices are sending the economy in
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