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To 10 Towns for Working Towards a Home Purchase (DATA)

By Lexie Puckett | August 30, 2011

Current economic uncertainty has left many potential home buyers questioning their job security and therefore questioning the financial safety of a long term real estate decision.

“Stable employment is one of the most important factors potential home buyers consider when purchasing a home.  In addition to their current job and income, consumers often consider other local market trends such as sale prices, time on market, and inventory,” stated Steve Berkowitz CEO of Move Inc. “Buying a home in an area with an established job market or expanding industry can help provide buyers more confidence in the future, especially as the economy continues to fluctuate.”

Towns were selected based on’s top job postings per capita list and July unemployment rates as well as’s July median list prices.

Washington, DC: In addition to the government employment opportunities that Washington DC has to offer, it is also home to Fortune 2000 companies such as Danaher (conglomerate) and Pepco Holdings (electric utilities). Washington DC dominated the list with the highest job postings per 1,000 people at 147, as well as the lowest unemployment rate at 6.2 percent.  In July, the median list price for single family homes, condominiums, co-ops and townhomes was $369,999 which was the highest increase in median list price on the list year-over-year.

“There is a definite correlation between Washington DC real estate growth and the robust job market found in the Nation’s Capital.” Natalie Dean, Real Estate Consultant, Washington DC

Baltimore, MD: Baltimore has the second highest job postings per capita in the bunch with 104 postings per 1,000 people. It is home to energy and financial services powerhouses Constellation Energy and T Rowe Price. Competition for jobs isn’t too fierce with an unemployment rate of 7.9 percent. When it comes to real estate purchases, the median list price in July was $244,500 – down about 6 percent from last year and flat when compared with June 2011.

Cleveland, OH: Cleveland, OH has the lowest median list price of all the cities on this list, at $132,900. Not only is housing affordable in Cleveland, the job market is home to several Fortune 2000 companies such as Progressive (insurance), Eaton corporation (power and energy), Parker Hannifin Corporation (appliance manufacturing), and Cliff’s Natural Resources (mining).  It boasts of a high job per capita rate at 102 per 1,000 people and an unemployment rate 8.3 percent which is below the July national average of 9.1 percent.

Hartford, CT: Hartford comes in at a high job per capita rate with 92 jobs per 1,000 people, but with a 9.2 percent unemployment rate job seekers should be ready for some tough competition. For job seekers looking to purchase a home, the Hartford market looks like it has begun to stabilize, but is slightly down year-over-year and month-over-month. When it comes to the Fortune 2000, both Aetna (healthcare) and United Technologies Corporation (conglomerate) have made their headquarters in Hartford.

Denver, CO: Newmont Mining (diversified metals and mining) and Molson Coors Brewing Company (beverages) both call Denver, CO home.  Denver offers 92 jobs per 1,000 people, but its unemployment rate is one of the highest on the list at 8.7 percent which is still below the national average.  The July median list price was $250,000 – down about 4 percent year-over-year and down about 3 percent month-over-month.

“Anecdotally, I am seeing ‘Corporate America’ back in the game.  Relocation traffic into Denver in the last 12 months from my perspective is up substantially.  Companies that had a ‘moratorium’ on subsidized moves during ’08, ’09, and into ’10 have really started to make strategic personnel moves into Denver.  One thing I have observed, however, has been people are ‘buying down’ or just being wisely conservative with their home buying decisions.  I’m routinely seeing incoming buyers purchasing homes in price ranges at half or less than what they are qualified to buy.”  Tom Cryer, SCRP, Realtor – Broker Associate, The Kentwood Company.

Austin, TX: Potential home buyers looking for stable job and real estate markets should consider Austin, TX.  It offers 90 jobs per 1,000 people and one of the lowest unemployment rates on this list at 7.6 percent.  The median list price in Austin is $224,900 and has increased by approximately 2 percent year-over-year and was flat month-over-month. It is the headquarters for the big brand names such as Dell and Whole Foods Markets who were both on the Fortune’s 2000 company list this year.

“The job market in Austin is booming in many key sectors. We saw more than 9000 new jobs added to the area from June 2010 to June 2011.  As a result, we have high demand in both home sales and rentals…For rentals, we’re experiencing a shortage of available units, making Austin a great investor’s market. I’m working with several investors right now. Apartment complexes are at capacity — 95% on average, and 100% for most Class A properties. Prices are increasing across the board.” Julie Holden, Realtor, Austin Texas

Boston, MA: State Street Corporation (investment services), Raytheon (aerospace and defense), Boston Properties (real estate) are all headquartered in Boston, MA.  It offers 81 jobs per 1,000 people and has a low unemployment rate 7.1 percent.  The housing market is still recovering in Boston, in July it had a median list price of $329,900 which was down roughly 3 percent year-over-year and 2 percent month-over-month.

Columbus, OH: Columbus is the second city in Ohio to make the list.  While Cleveland beats Columbus in number of jobs per 1,000, the Columbus real estate market is showing more signs of stability when compared to Cleveland. The median list price in Columbus is higher than Cleveland at $150,000 and is flat when compared with last year and last month.  When it comes to the Fortune 2000 list, American Electric has its headquarters in Columbus.

“Columbus (Central Ohio) is one of the strongest job markets in Ohio – approximately 75% of all the jobs that come to Ohio come to Central Ohio. I feel because of our job diversity, which includes a blend of many industries; distribution, government, banking, manufacturing, medical, research and development, insurance, as well as our proven track record in successful entrepreneurial endeavors (Limited Brands & Cardinal Industries…) have allowed us to weather the real estate turmoil far better than most regions.” Lyn Williams, American Real Estate Group, Columbus OH.

Phoenix, AZ: The unemployment rate in Phoenix is still high at 9 percent which could mean stiff competition for its 79 job opportunities per 1,000 people.  The housing market in Phoenix is also still in flux, with a decrease in median list price of about 6.5 percent year-over-year.  Phoenix is showing some signs of improvement with a 3.5 percent increase in median list prices month-over-month.  It is also home to several Fortune 2000 companies such as: Republic Services (environmental and waste), Avnet (electronics), First Solar (electronics), and Apollo Group (business and personal services).

“The job growth in the Phoenix area over the last year has been a blessing.  After shedding jobs for a few years, we’re now ranked 7th in the country for growth.  I think it’s a real positive for the market as a whole. …Homeownership is still the American dream.  With more people working, vacancy rates go down.  When vacancy rates go down, there is more demand for housing and you get higher rents.  When rents go up purchasing becomes that much more attractive.  I’m not saying we’re out of the woods yet, but the job growth is starting and rents are going up.  There’s definitely a positive outlook for the future.” Patrick Jorgensen, Artisan Real Estate Group, Phoenix AZ

Richmond, VA: While Richmond has the lowest jobs per capita rate on the list, with 77 jobs per 1,000 people.  It hosts the most Fortune 2000 on the list including: Capital One (consumer financial services), Altria Group (Tobacco), Dominion Resources (electric utilities), Genworth Financial (Diversified Insurance), and CarMax (specialty stores).  Its unemployment rate is relatively low at 7.1 percent.  While the median list price for July was down about 3 percent year-over-year, it is up about 2 percent month-over-month.


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