San Francisco Is Best for Home Sellers, Baltimore for Buyers

Owning a home in San Francisco comes with 99 problems, but selling ain’t one.

Among the problems: San Francisco’s median home values are among the highest in the country, topping $800,000, according to Zillow Research. The city is cold and foggy in the summer, as Mark Twain noted. You also have to keep an ear to the ground for earthquakes.

But when it comes time to sell, you can’t beat San Francisco. Its homes are listed on Zillow for just 51 days on average, and only 5.4 percent of listings take price cuts — making it the best market for sellers in 2016.

The top markets for buying have the inverse situation: more days listed and greater price cuts.

By those measures, the best market for buying is Baltimore, where listings spend an average of 104 days on Zillow, and 12.7 percent of listings take a price cut.

Here’s a look at the top 10 markets for selling and buying.

Many of the metros on the top markets for sellers list have seen huge influxes of newcomers, sending home prices into the stratosphere. Portland had the fastest rising home values in 2016 — up 13.8 percent.

Six of the 10 top buyers’ markets have home values that are appreciating more slowly than the national average — which in 2016 was 6.8 percent. For example, Baltimore home values rose less than 4 percent during 2016.

Home inventories also play a role. Markets with more homes going on the market — for example, Miami, where 14.6 percent more listings hit the market in December 2016 than a year earlier — often lean toward buyers. Miami is the second-best buyers’ market, based on listing days and percentage of listings with price cuts.

However, Boston — No. 10 on the top markets for selling list — saw a 21.6 percent drop in listing inventory in December 2016 from the prior year.

If you’re trying to buy in a hot market, take heart: Most experts in a recent Zillow survey said they expect the overall housing market to switch from a sellers’ market to a buyers’ market in 2018 or 2019 as the market begins to slow.



Boston Tops the List of Best Metros for Love

While people who buy homes are typically married — in 2015, married couples represented almost 60 percent of home buyers — the share of unmarried couples buying homes together has been on the rise.

The power of two incomes, along with changing social norms, helped catapult their share of the home buying market to 14.6 percent in 2015, from 11.2 percent a decade earlier. (At the same time, singles are losing ground, dropping from 30.6 percent to 25.4 percent of the market from 2010 to 2015.)

We can’t be sure these unmarried couples are romantically involved — but for those who are, the economics of home buying appears to play a role in getting them together. Which brings us to Valentine’s Day, and the best 10 metro areas for finding love.

There are options all over the country, but the top two — Boston and New Orleans — offer a nice contrast in scenery and climate.

Looking for someone to snuggle with amid all the snow and freezing temperatures in Boston? You’re in luck!

A whopping 66 percent of the people who live in the Boston area are single, helping make it one of the country’s best metro areas for love. With a median income of $25,000, those singles also have a little dough to spend at Boston’s 159 places to date per 10,000 people.

So pull on that parka and grab a hot toddy! Beantown awaits with an apartment like this one, which rents for $2,300 a month — just $29 below the average for a single in the Boston metro area (with roommates):

Photo from Zillow listing.

However, if frigid temps and Paul Revere are just not your thing, cast an eye toward warmer climes — because the second-best metro for love is balmy New Orleans.

In the Big Easy, 59 percent of residents are single. Compared with Boston, they have fewer date spots — just 51 per 10,000 people — but the ones they have are world class: music venues on Frenchmen Street, gorgeous parks everywhere you look, and, of course, the quintessential year-round party that is Bourbon Street.

Singles in the New Orleans metro area earn a median income of $17,000 a year and pay median rent of $1,388, which would put you in a nice place like this one:

Photo from Zillow listing.

Whether love is in the air or not, these are metros that singles — and everyone — can cherish.




Big Game Hometowns Square Off on Housing

While we wait to see Sunday which football team wins the season, here’s a telling snapshot of how Atlanta and Boston match up when it comes to homes.

Atlanta, sometimes known as “Hotlanta” for its lively nightlife and steamy summer temperatures, is wide open down the middle of the field with housing affordability. Its homeowners spend 11.7 percent of their incomes on mortgages, and its renters spend 25.5 percent of their incomes on rents.

Although Bostonians spend a greater share of their incomes on housing — 21.3 percent for homeowners and 34.3 percent for renters — they muscle their way through with gorgeous, historical housing stock.

This Boston duplex, for example, is a touchdown for anyone who loves the charm of 1800s interiors. The price tag: $5.49 million.

Photo from listing on Zillow.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta offers its share of gracious living. Here’s a $3.2 million condo that’s quite a catch. Built in 2008, it offers the high ceilings and detailed woodworking that call to mind an earlier time.

Photo from listing on Zillow.

Both these homes are well outside the median value in their metro areas, based on the Zillow Home Value Index. The median home value for the Boston metro area  (population 4.6 million) is $412,300, while the median for the Atlanta metro area (population 5.3 million) is $173,300.

Rents are a different story. The median rent in Boston is $2,329 a month, compared with $1,333 a month in Atlanta.

Here’s a 1-bedroom apartment in Boston with 11-foot ceilings and a rooftop pool for $2,300 a month:

Photo from listing on Zillow.

And here’s a $1,350 a month 1-bedroom apartment in Atlanta that’s near downtown and offers a community pool:

Photo from listing on Zillow.

Whether the Falcons or the Patriots win on Sunday, both metros come out winners in the housing arena.



Nashville Tops the List of Hottest Housing Markets for 2017

In the same year renting becomes more affordable and the homeownership rate bounces back from historical lows, the country’s housing market superstar will be — drumroll, please — Nashville!

Music City has moved beyond its country roots to become a fast-growing economy with employment by the healthcare industry and big corporate names including Nissan, Randstad and Kroger — plus the popular chain of diners, Shoney’s.

Home appreciation is expected to rocket in Nashville this year by 4.3 percent, while incomes recently grew by 1.1 percent and unemployment is a healthy 4 percent.

Nashville is followed in housing market hotness by Seattle; Provo, UT; and Orlando on Zillow’s list of hottest markets for 2017.

“These hot markets are experiencing change as more people discover them,” said Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell.

Zillow’s economic predictions for 2017 include a warning about a possible worsening of labor shortages for new construction if President-elect Trump follows through on his hard-line stances on immigration and immigrant labor.

Other predictions for the year ahead:

  • Cities will focus on denser development of smaller homes near public transit and urban centers.
  • More millennials, who made up more than half of first-time buyers in 2016, will become homeowners this year, increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of homeowners overall.
  • Rental affordability will improve as incomes rise and escalating rents slow.
  • The share of people driving to work will increase for the first time in a decade, as homeowners move into the suburbs for more affordable housing.

For more insights into U.S. real estate and rentals, check out the Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends.