Neighborhood Aerial Shot

Home values have been trending upward nationwide. As any good real estate agent knows, though, different markets can have very different conditions. You can’t really expect Philadelphia to be the same as Atlanta, after all.

Looking toward the peak of home-buying season, we thought we’d take a look at several markets in various regions of the country. What’s different? What’s similar? Are there any overarching trends?

Philadelphia

In the City of Brotherly Love, home prices are picking up, but it’s happening at a more modest pace than much of the country.

REALTOR® Mary Byrnes gave us an overview of the Philadelphia housing market. She covers the Main Line and Paoli region.

“The hottest markets are the ones in the best school districts, like T/E and Lower Merion, and the ones near trains and in walking distance to shops,” Byrnes says. “Anything with a pavement is selling fast these days. More people are biking and walking, so this is a newer trend in the past five years.”

Beyond location, what are buyers looking for?

“Buyers are very picky; they want the ‘shiny penny’ with stainless steel appliances and quartz countertops, hardwood floors and modern light fixtures, etc.”

According to Byrnes, there’s not much differentiation between starter homes and move-up homes at the moment because so many millennials are delaying home purchases. There really aren’t enough three-bedroom, two bathroom ranches in the area to accommodate all the demand.

Byrnes’s outlook for the rest of the summer is that the market is hot right now, but movement in rates could push things around.

“If a house is priced right, it will sell in the first week with multiple offers; even in the worst school districts, houses that are priced right and pretty are selling quickly,” she says. “The pace is brisk, and as long as the rates stay stable, it should be a hot market through the summer and into the fall; however, if rates spike by June, then the summer will be dead while buyers figure out how to adjust their goals and financials.”

Chicago

According to Zillow, home values in the Chicago area are up 3.0% to come in at a median of $225,900. The real estate site’s forecast has values rising in the area by 5.2% in the next year.

Megan Ashbrook of Ashbrook Realty says that one area that has really contributed to the appreciation trend in the area is Portage.

“A little over three years ago, the top price in the area hovered in the $500,000 range and you could even find a potential rehab under $200,000,” she says. “Homes would sit in the market for 30+ days before going under contract. Now we have multiple listings entering at $800,000 and many are under contract the same or next day and with multiple offers. The Portage area has recently had a resurgence due to multiple new restaurants and businesses entering the area as well as the possibly of large commercial developments, but this is definitely on the extreme side of Chicago real estate.”

Although Portage is on the high side for Chicago real estate, some of the same trends are happening here as in many other areas of the country – Ashbrook says low inventory is driving prices up.

Charleston, South Carolina and Atlanta

Professional home buyer Parker Stiles of Barrington Acquisitions says price appreciation in these markets is very high, increasing by around 25% in the past three years. It’s created an affordability challenge for the average person. In addition, some buyers are willing to go above and beyond to get the deal done.

“We have been getting many more offers than in the past,” he says. “Most over asking price, as long as it is priced right. Buyers are more willing to pay for some or all of the sellers’ closing costs to get the deal. High demand and little supply are making these homes sell like hotcakes.”

Stiles says buyers in these markets have some very specific tastes.

“Currently, many home buyers are craving the ‘updated grey’ feel,” Stiles says. “This is a crisp grey and white color scheme, usually consisting of more hard surfaces than carpet. These homes can consist of many expensive updates such as granite, custom cabinets and unique tile showers, to the basics like fresh paint, new carpet or luxury vinyl laminate flooring.”

Austin, Texas and the Southwest

Austin is one of the hottest markets in the Southwest and across the country. Brad Pauly from Pauly Presley Realty says that buyers in the area are looking for something near their favorite attractions.

“From the urban core out, the Austin real estate market is growing in every direction,” Pauly says. “Most home buyers we work with are looking for a ‘walkability factor.’ They want the ability to enjoy the wonderful things Austin has to offer without having to get in a car. The ability to bike or walk to restaurants, bars, parks, the lake and other retail is the driving factor for our home buyers.”

Although Pauly thinks rising rates will affect buying power for some, he thinks demand is such that it won’t be slowing soon.

It’s not just Austin, either. Seven of Realtor.com’s top 15 housing markets are in the Southwestern United States, including Phoenix and Henderson, Nevada.

San Diego

Ricardo Olea is a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Realty based in San Diego. Prices there are going up, but he says it can’t last forever.

“There are new trends that seem to be appearing with home buyers as they are starting to smell the same signs of the 2008 crash,” Olea says. “I will say I do not believe a crash will occur, but we’re in for a correction soon.”

He says buyers are getting savvy and now know when they have leverage. Any property that doesn’t sell within the area median of 13 days swings the advantage to the buyer.

“These buyers are starting to understand that the seller’s leverage is starting to dwindle away. Buyers are being pickier during the home-buying process. The number of homes being shown has gone up, the request for seller repairs and credits is being tossed around more often, and buyers are talking about waiting a year to see what the market does.”

If you’re interested in more real estate news you can use, check out our content for real estate agents at RealEstate.QuickenLoans.com. What real estate is hot in your area? Let us know in the comments below.

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