The Top Ten Places to Live According to Zillow

January 31, 2011 (Shirley Allen)
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We know, we know…not another top ten list, but we have to on this one, only because it’s Zillow. Besides, we have to fun every once in a while! When asked their thoughts on the best places for prospective homeowners to buy in the next year, they thought about what makes a local market an attractive place to buy. They looked at this question from the standpoint of people who live and work in these cities and if 2011 would be a good year for them to take the plunge into home ownership.

The survey was conducted with 4 main criteria and each was given equal weight:

1. Affordability
2. Unemployment
3. Foreclosure Rate
4. Price Appreciation

Without getting into all the messy stuff about how they determined the criteria, the survey said:

1. Utica, NY
Utica, NY scored well in all four categories. The median home price ($104,000) is roughly the equivalent of 2.3 years of median household income . Unemployment in Utica is 7.0%, and is nearly flat, down 0.2% year over year. Utica has the lowest foreclosure rate of any city we looked at for this list with 0.07% of homes being liquidated in foreclosure in the past 12 months. Home values are up nearly 4% quarter over quarter, and up 5.2% year over year–contrast that to national home values down 1.8% quarter over quarter and down 5% year over year.

2. Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma City boasts a very strong job market and one that’s improving. It has the lowest unemployment out of the top 5 Best Cities at 6%. The real estate market is healthy as well, with home values up 2.6% year over year and a low foreclosure rate (ranked #3 out of 124 metros).

3. Rochester, NY
Rochester offers buyers an affordable market (median home value is $121,000, the equivalent of 2.4 years of median income) and an improving local economy. Unemployment is down 0.5% this past year. Additionally, the local real estate market is solid: 91% of homes sold for a gain in October 2010 (compared to 70% nationwide).

4. Pittsburgh, PA
Similar to the other featured markets, Pittsburgh is seeing increasing home values on a quarterly and yearly basis. Values are up both quarter over quarter and year over year with 50% of homes seeing an increase in value (compared to 28% of homes nationwide).

5. Tulsa, OK
Tulsa is the most affordable city in the top 10 list: 2.1 years of median income equals the value of a median home ($112,300). Also, the Tulsa market offers home buyers a good bang for their buck with a median value per square foot of $73 (compared with $108 nationally).

Rounding out the top 10:

Albany, NY
Lancaster, PA
Madison, WI
Green Bay, WI
Lincoln, Nebraska

If you’d really like to read the whole survey, click here.

Tags: zillow, top ten places to live, affordability, unemployment, foreclosure, rate, unemployment