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Region ranked in Top 10 markets Real estate site notes price appreciation

The Buffalo Niagara region is one of the Top 10 "real estate markets to watch" this year, according to a new report by a national research and information service focused on real estate.

Inman News of Alameda, Calif., ranked the Western New York market as one of the "fast-rising real estate markets" nationwide, according to a report on the firm's website. These are housing markets that "are showing signs of strength and may outperform other housing markets in 2011," the report said.

The selected markets demonstrate a mix of "significant price appreciation," a "high level" of affordability of homes, low foreclosures, a strong job market bolstered by the health care industry and public sector, and other "indicators for a healthy housing market."

In Buffalo's case, Inman noted that the delinquency rate was essentially flat from November 2009 to last November, at "a relatively low" 4.1 percent -- tied for the third-lowest in the country -- while foreclosures fell 43.5 percent in 2010 to one of the nation's lowest rates. Just one in 332 housing units received a foreclosure filing in Buffalo in 2010, compared with one in 45 nationally.

Indeed, a separate report Tuesday by CoreLogic found that while Buffalo's foreclosure rate rose in December from the prior year, it remains at just 1.91 percent, well below the national pace of 3.58 percent and the state's rate of 3.97 percent. And the delinquency rate remained at 4.1 percent in December -- half that of the nation and well below that of the state.

Inman's report also noted that the region has the fifth-fastest-rising median list price and was one of the few areas of the country where the median sales price rose in both 2009 and 2010. According to statistics cited by Inman, the median sales price of $126,500 last quarter was up 14.3 percent from the same period in 2009. Nationally, the median price of $170,600 was up just 0.2 percent.

Even so, Inman noted that last quarter, 85.8 percent of homes were affordable for households earning the median income, compared with 73.9 percent nationally.

Through November, 14,401 homes had changed hands last year, down 12.3 percent. Home building permits rose 14 percent locally, compared with 3 percent nationally. Houses typically spent 102 days on the market in Western New York, versus 135 nationally.

Unemployment was 8.2 percent in December, versus 9.1 percent nationally.

Inman compiled its report after examining housing, economic and demographic data. The firm also consulted with real estate search and data companies.

The researchers looked at markets with low unemployment and foreclosures, high median sales price and median household income growth, affordability, fewer average days on the market for properties being sold and an increase in building permits, occupied housing units, population, immigration from other states and projected jobs.

The list was dominated by markets in the Midwest and Northeast, which accounted for eight of the 10 cities, as the once-high-flying Sun Belt areas are "still struggling through the housing downturn."

Specifically, the other "markets to watch" are Bismarck and Fargo, N.D.; Des Moines, Iowa; Bloomington-Normal, Ill.; Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, Maine; Burlington-South Burlington, Vt.; Kennewick-Richland-Pasco, Wash.; Washington, D.C.; and Elmira. Within the group, cities were ranked largely based on population, so Buffalo was second behind Washington, D.C.

e-mail: jepstein@buffnews.com

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