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Homes are a big investment – there’s no doubt about it. But that doesn’t mean they’re not more affordable in some areas than in others. If you’re looking to buy a home in 2019, which markets might provide the most bang for your buck?

We looked at data from the National Association of REALTORS® for the third quarter of 2018, the most recent quarter for which information was available. What follows is a noncomprehensive list of America’s most affordable metro areas. We tried to pick a couple from each region of the country in order to get a good mix, but we invite you to check out the list yourself to see if there’s a place we missed where you might be interested in moving.

Midwest

Although they’ve been going up, home values in the Midwest have risen more slowly than in many areas in the rest of the country, so the top of this list is dotted with Midwestern cities. Let’s run through a couple of them.

Youngstown, Ohio Area

Home value in Q3 2018: $97,600

Home Value Year-Over-Year Increase: 9.8%

Located roughly halfway between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, Youngstown is home to 4,400 acres of Metropark land that encompasses everything from hiking and bike trails to golf courses. It also has a couple of performing arts centers and sports franchises, courtesy of the local minor league baseball team and the Youngstown State Penguins, who participate in Division I NCAA men’s basketball.

Waterloo and Cedar Falls, Iowa

Home value in Q3 2018: $132,900

Home Value Year-Over-Year Increase: 1.8%

Cedar Falls and Waterloo are in the heartland of farm country, and one of the unique traditions there is barn quilting. Residents put their needle and thread to work to devise the most imaginative patterns.

The area is also home to the John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum, and you can take a tour of the assembly plant. There are lots of farms in the region that not only offer their wares, but provide classes as well, so you can learn a little bit about the trade.

South

The South is the nation’s biggest housing region. Let’s take a look at a couple of more affordable spots.

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Home value in Q3 2018: $141,000

Home Value Year-Over-Year Increase: 5%

Fayetteville is the home of the Fort Bragg U.S. Army base, so there’s plenty of cool military history and sites to check out in the area, including the 82nd U.S. Airborne Division War Memorial Museum.

Another interesting factoid about Fayetteville: George Herman Ruth hit his first professional home run there, and they say it’s where he got his “Babe” nickname.

Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi

Home value in Q3 2018: $145,200

Home Value Year-Over-Year Increase: 5.5%

This is right on the Gulf of Mexico, so there’s plenty of sand, surf and fish to be had, if that’s your thing.

If you’re a fan of the blues, this is one of the primary locales where the genre got its start. Along the Mississippi Blues Trail, there are several historic landmarks commemorating various sites and events that were instrumental in the formation of the music.

Northeast

Homes in the Northeast tend to be on the upper end of budgets. Many of these areas are built up, and there’s limited inventory available, but bargains are sometimes possible.

Rochester, New York

Home value in Q3 2018: $153,400

Home Value Year-Over-Year Increase: 5.3%

Rochester hosts the annual “Fringe Festival,” where groups and performers who might not otherwise get their work seen or heard have a chance to display their talents. This is just one of 140 festivals going on in the area over the course of the year.

If you’ve got a green thumb or just like flowers, Rochester calls itself the Flower City and has an array of great botanical gardens.

Reading, Pennsylvania

Home value in Q3 2018: $175,700

Home Value Year-Over-Year Increase: 0.7%

Reading is home to the Blue Marsh Lake National Recreation Area, where residents and visitors alike can take advantage of 1,147 acres of water for fishing and boating as well as hiking trails, a beach and horseback riding.

Another fun trivia fact to impress your friends: The Reading Railroad from Monopoly was operated by the Reading Company until it was sold in 1976.

West

There were around 180 metropolitan areas in the third-quarter 2018 affordability study run by the National Association of REALTORS. Property values have gone up the fastest in the West, whether that’s because of good weather or Silicon Valley. That said, some locations are still cheaper than others.

Farmington, New Mexico

Home value in Q3 2018: $184,300

Home Value Year-Over-Year Increase: 5.9%

Farmington is situated at the epicenter of what’s known as the “Four Corners,” home to several tribes of Native Americans: the Navajo, Jicarilla-Apache, Southern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute and Hopi. Much of the area is steeped in this culture.

The terrain lends itself to numerous outdoor activities, like hiking, off-roading and Geocaching – an outdoor scavenger hunt with GPS.

Tucson, Arizona

Home value in Q3 2018: $223,800

Home Value Year-Over-Year Increase: 6.6%

I’ve always thought cacti were pretty cool looking; I just wouldn’t get too close. Tucson is home to Saguaro National Parks East and West. There’s also some excellent cave exploration in the area.

If you want to keep your feet on the ground but look to the stars, the Kitt Peak National Observatory is another go-to destination. It boasts one of the largest collections of optical and radio telescopes in the world.

We hope you’ve learned a little more about some of the country’s most affordable cities for housing in 2019. If you think you’re ready to buy, you can get started online or give one of our Home Loan Experts a call at (800) 785-4788.

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. I would love to see a list of cheapest rural land prices as I was looking to buy more land and build on the land. Water, electric, sewer a must. Maybe cheapest buildable 10 acres lists would be an awesome comparison.

  2. The biggest part of home ownership is not the principle, or interest, or tax, or utilities, or insurance. It is all of these! Rochester NY? Are you kidding me! completely unaffordable.

    1. Hi George:

      There are many metrics you can use to determine relative affordability of homes. We chose to use sales prices. Obviously, there are other metrics. We appreciate your feedback!

  3. Most of the cities in this list is currently experiencing unemployment at a rate that is appreciably above the current national average, and most are in areas where slow economic growth is predicted for the near term. That renders the list useless for most Americans, who by all estimates will be forced to work until the day they all die. When you publish this kind of information, make sure you paint the entire picture, and that you do not cherry-pick information, making depressed economies seem much better than they are. In fact, it would be useful for you to generate information about how often low housing costs in an area reflect poorly performing local economies. Championing poorly considered purchases of real estate is not the business Quicken Loans should be in.

    1. We appreciate the feedback. While I understand your viewpoint, I would say it’s an inaccurate outlook to say that most Americans will be working until the day they die. Also, we understand the inherent limitations of doing a comparison based on house prices, but that is disclosed. While we are aiming to provide people with information so they can make informed decisions about where they might want to live, there are a variety of sources and perspectives to take into account.

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