Aerial Fly over Sun Rises Over Frosty Covered Rooftops Suburbia Austin Texas House community. A newly built development near Round Rock , Texas. one of the fastest growing suburbs of Austin , TX

In Austin, experts recommend looking for affordable options outside the city center. (Getty Images)

Following the Great Recession, housing markets have not had enough supply for buyers throughout the U.S., and it’s frustrating for many first-time homebuyers struggling to keep up with rapidly rising home values.

Fortunately, it looks like some markets are starting to calm down.

While home values continue to climb, they appear to be slowing compared to previous years, and the median listing price is remaining steady – and in some cases dropping.

In May, real estate information company Trulia identified markets in the U.S. where the median home listing price either fell or stalled in March 2018 compared to the same time the year before. Places like Austin, Texas, saw a decrease in median listing price by 3.4 percent, Houston had a mere 0.4 percent increase in median listing price, and Sarasota, Florida, saw just a 0.7 percent increase.

The listing price doesn’t capture the ultimate sale price, but it can be an indicator that markets are finally starting to edge toward the buyer’s benefit. The reasons for decreasing listing prices vary from market to market, but more construction and completion of new homes, additional options outside the city center and a relaxing of the market at high-end prices appears to be easing tensions in some housing markets.

[Read: Why the Best Places to Live May Be in Middle America.]

Here’s a snapshot of three markets where homebuyers may see some relief as they tour houses and condos while searching for their next home.

Sarasota: High-Price Buyers Have Room

Trulia shows slowed increases in listing price, but according to Greg Owens, a local Realtor and president of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee, the relief is selective. For homes valued less than $500,000, it’s reasonable to expect multiple offers on a property and for it to move quickly.

“Depending on the price range you’re in, you may have to jump a little faster through the hoop,” Owens says.

Properties above the half-million price point, however, are a different story. Homes above $500,000 have more like eight months of inventory on the market, Owens says.

Even with the tough seller’s market in the lower price range, Sarasota is more buyer-friendly than other Florida metro areas. Even as the third fastest-growing metro area in the U.S. due to net migration (between 2012 and 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau), home sale price increases have been below the state average increase, Owens says. “That bodes well for our area, for people to come here,” he explains.

The truth is you can get a less expensive home in the Sarasota area as long as you’re willing to sacrifice the luxuries many people move to coastal Florida for. So if you live in the North Point area or east, closer to cattle farms and orange groves rather than the water and beaches, Owens says affordability is far less of a struggle.

“If you don’t mind driving 30 or 40 minutes to the beach, you can find some more affordable housing,” he says.

[Read: 8 Ways to Tell the House You're Buying Is a Flip.]

Houston: Building Activity Makes Room for More Buyers

According to data from the Houston Association of Realtors, the market had 3.6 months of supply for the month of April (six months of supply is a balanced market), slightly less than a year earlier. While that inventory is inching downward toward a seller’s market, Houston is currently in a balanced market cycle and is also on par with the national average for months of inventory, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Key to Houston’s market, however, is its surging construction activity. In 2017, the Houston metro area saw 42,395 authorized permits for residential construction, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In the first four months of 2018, 17,417 additional authorizations took place for residential construction.



The metro area’s severe damage from Hurricane Harvey is a primary reason for the spike in construction, but the building activity will likely lead to more movement in the market. Construction is necessary to ensure existing homes that were damaged can be repaired and not undergo further damage over time, as well as build new residences to replace those that can’t be salvaged. But the construction does more than just help replenish what was lost to Hurricane Harvey – a constantly growing metro area with new housing options helps new residents in the area see that the city isn’t held back by the damage it sustained.

But Houston’s building activity is a distant second in terms of Texas metro areas experiencing a construction boom: The Dallas-Fort Worth area saw 22,870 authorized housing units in the first four months of 2018. Trulia’s report points to relaxing median listing prices not just in Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth, but San Antonio and Austin as well.

[Read: 8 Neighborhood Amenities to Look For, Even if You Don't Use Them.]

Austin: Seek Outside the City Center

The rapidly expanding capital of Texas has been in the midst of a population boom ever since tech companies from Silicon Valley pointed to Austin as a more affordable, easily accessible place to locate new offices following the recession. As a result, Austin has grown by 10.25 percent between 2012 and 2016 due to net migration alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Because of the interest from relocating professionals, it’s no surprise that the Austin market has been becoming an increasingly tough area for first-time homebuyers. In April, the Austin metro area saw a 5 percent year-over-year increase in median sale price to $315,000, according to the Austin Board of Realtors.

Buyers in the Austin area can still expect tough competition for homes in the hottest city neighborhoods, but don’t give up hope. “There is inventory on the market,” says Jeff Plotkin, a Texas-licensed Realtor, attorney and certified public accountant and vice president of Habitat Hunters Inc. in Austin. “We are resourceful in finding people properties that meet their needs, so long as their pricing expectations and locations are realistic.”

The secret to buying in Austin? Consider buying just outside of Austin. Residential real estate has 2.4 months of inventory on the market in the greater metro area, as opposed to just 1.9 months of inventory inside the city limits. “A lot of people have turned to the suburban areas such as Round Rock, Manor, Buda, Cedar Park because they can get more house for their money,” Plotkin says.

Based on historic housing data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, the Austin market is coming up on its peak season for available properties, typically running from July to September. The current local inventory implies there will be fewer properties on the market compared to last year, but it’s simply a matter of seeing what becomes available.

Plotkin notes there’s ample construction throughout the area for all types of property, from single-family homes to commercial buildings. More than 9,900 units of housing were authorized for construction in the first four months of 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with as many as 26,700 authorized in 2017. Austin isn’t building as quickly as Houston or Dallas, but it’s certainly working to provide some relief to all the demand.


The 25 Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S. in 2018

Find an affordable place to call home.

A daytime cityscape of Huntsville, Al.

(Getty Images)

Your ability to live comfortably is a key part of deciding where you want to live. Based on a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. residents on how important certain factors are in determining where to live, U.S. News weighted value at 25 percent – one of the most important factors in calculating the Best Places to Live. We looked at what portion of the median annual household income went to the average cost to own or rent a home, plus the typical cost of utilities and taxes.

25. Boise, Idaho

25. Boise, Idaho

Warm sunlight of morning bathes the Idaho State Capitol dome

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 23
Metro Population: 663,680
Median Annual Salary: $43,040
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.22 percent

Boise is the 25th-most affordable place to live. Residents keep nearly 74 percent of their income after paying for housing costs.

24. Anchorage, Alaska

24. Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska, United States Of America

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 42
Metro Population: 398,000
Median Annual Salary: $57,770
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.08 percent

The northernmost metro area out of the 125 ranked, Anchorage is Alaska’s center for commerce and industry. The median annual salary is also well above the national average, which is $49,630.

23. Charlotte, North Carolina

23. Charlotte, North Carolina

A view of Uptown Charlotte, NC, from Romare Bearden Park.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 22
Metro Population: 2,381,152
Median Annual Salary: $49,600
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.07 percent

Charlotte takes the No. 23 spot on the list, with residents paying just 26.07 percent of their household income for housing expenses. At $49,600, the median annual salary just about matches the national average.

22. St. Louis

22. St. Louis

Photo Taken In United States, Saint Louis

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 89
Metro Population: 2,803,449
Median Annual Salary: $48,240
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.95 percent

Missouri’s largest metro area offers more affordability compared with other places in the U.S. of the same size. For instance, Baltimore and Tampa, Florida, can't match the 25.95 percent cost of living compared to household income that St. Louis offers.

21. Kansas City, Missouri

21. Kansas City, Missouri

Skyline

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 58
Metro Population: 2,070,147
Median Annual Salary: $48,900
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.91 percent

This metro area that straddles both Missouri and Kansas is home to more than 2 million residents, but it still maintains greater affordability than most major metro areas. Kansas City residents use just 25.91 percent of their household income on housing costs.

20. Wichita, Kansas

20. Wichita, Kansas

A photograph of downtown Wichita, Kansas.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 81
Metro Population: 640,505
Median Annual Salary: $43,280
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.88 percent

While there are more than 600,000 residents in this Kansas metro area, Wichita maintains a small-town feel – and the cost to match. Residents need just 25.88 percent of their household income to cover rent or mortgage payments, utilities and property taxes.

19. Lafayette, Louisiana

19. Lafayette, Louisiana

Downtown Lafayette, Louisiana, USA

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 107
Metro Population: 484,043
Median Annual Salary: $39,350
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.84 percent

Lafayette isn’t the only Louisiana metro area to make the Best Affordable Places to Live list. While income is low compared to the national average, the cost of living remains low as well.

18. Little Rock, Arkansas

18. Little Rock, Arkansas

Riverfront area of downtown Little Rock, Arkansas, on the Arkansas River on a sunny summer day.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 65
Metro Population: 727,371
Median Annual Salary: $43,050
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.77 percent

The capital of Arkansas is the 18th-most affordable place to live, with a blended annual household income, which includes household income for both renters and homeowners, of $52,745. After housing costs are paid for, Little Rock residents typically keep more than 74 percent of that in their pockets.

17. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

17. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Baton Rogue at sunset

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 100
Metro Population: 824,667
Median Annual Salary: $44,460
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.71 percent

It may be ranked No. 100 on the overall Best Places to Live list, but Baton Rouge offers affordability. Baton Rouge residents spend just 25.71 percent of their income on housing costs.

16. Syracuse, New York

16. Syracuse, New York

view of the city of Syracuse, new york

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 48
Metro Population: 660,652
Median Annual Salary: $48,530
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.70 percent

This upstate New York metro area serves as a far more affordable living option compared to New York City, one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S. Syracuse is one of the few metro areas not located in Middle America in the 25 Best Affordable Places to Live list.

15. Louisville, Kentucky

15. Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville downtown skyline view with a park with trees in the foreground.  Picture taken during autumn.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 61
Metro Population: 1,269,550
Median Annual Salary: $44,270
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.55 percent

As the No. 13 Best Affordable Place to Live last year, Louisville has fallen back a few spots despite its income increasing compared to last year. But the area's cost of living has ticked up, too. Louisville residents spend 25.55 percent of their household income on living expenses.

14. Cincinnati

14. Cincinnati

Photo of colorful pubs and restaurants and old historic facades on Walnut Street in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 49
Metro Population: 2,146,410
Median Annual Salary: $48,130
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.47 percent

Cincinnati residents spend slightly less than Louisvillians on housing costs. The typical cost of living is 25.47 percent of the household income.

13. Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina

13. Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina

Durham, North Carolina Cityscape

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 13
Metro Population: 1,786,119
Median Annual Salary: $52,669
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.38 percent

Referred to as the Research Triangle thanks to the plethora of research companies and major universities based in the area – including Duke University, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University – Raleigh and Durham ranks No. 12 for Best Affordable Places to Live. Raleigh and Durham residents spend just 25.38 of their household income on living costs.

12. Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky

12. Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky

Old historic city downtown of Lexington, Kentucky, USA

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 21
Metro Population: 495,193
Median Annual Salary: $43,620
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.38 percent

Rooted in the equestrian industry, Lexington-Fayette has a deep connection to agriculture and is largely made up of farmland just outside the city centers. This keeps the metro area’s cost of living low, at just 25.38 percent of the household income.

11. Pittsburgh

11. Pittsburgh

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 57
Metro Population: 2,354,926
Median Annual Salary: $47,360
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.34 percent

Moving east to Pittsburgh, residents of the Steel City and its surrounding area spend just 25.34 percent of their household income on rent or mortgage payments and utilities.

10. Buffalo, New York

10. Buffalo, New York

Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, behind New York City.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 52
Metro Population: 1,135,503
Median Annual Salary: $46,390
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.26 percent

The second upstate New York metro area to make the top 25, Buffalo takes the No. 10 spot. Residents in the Buffalo area benefit from a low cost of living, with just 25.26 percent of the median household income spent on living expenses.

9. Minneapolis-St. Paul

9. Minneapolis-St. Paul

Minneapolis Downtown

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 9
Metro Population: 3,488,436
Median Annual Salary: $55,010
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.06 percent

Minneapolis-St. Paul is the largest metro area on the 25 Best Affordable Places to Live list. Not only are residents spending a smaller portion of their household income on housing – just 25.06 percent – but they’re also bringing home more money as well. The median annual salary is $55,010.

8. Fayetteville, Arkansas

8. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Fayetteville

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 5
Metro Population: 503,642
Median Annual Salary: $44,980
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.05 percent

Fayetteville continues to grow in population – having increased by 6 percent between 2012 and 2016 due to net migration alone – but the area maintains a low cost of living. Residents spend just over a quarter of their household income on housing costs.

7. Omaha, Nebraska

7. Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha downtown

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 28
Metro Population: 904,834
Median Annual Salary: $46,490
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.05 percent

With a median annual salary of $46,490, Omaha comes in at the No. 7 spot. The largest metro area in Nebraska and coming in at No. 2 for affordability last year, Omaha has seen a slight increase in its cost of living. Residents spend 25.05 percent of their household income on housing.

6. Salt Lake City

6. Salt Lake City

Morning orange sky over Salt lake city utah

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 15
Metro Population: 2,361,981
Median Annual Salary: $46,221
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.02 percent

Salt Lake City is a fast-growing metro area, but it has managed to maintain a low cost of living. Salt Lake City residents spend just 25.02 percent of their household income on housing.

5. Indianapolis

5. Indianapolis

Downtown Indianapolis skyline at twilight

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 55
Metro Population: 1,968,768
Median Annual Salary: $46,840
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 24.75 percent

Indianapolis isn’t the only Indiana metro area to crack the top 10 of the Best Affordable Places to Live list. Indianapolis residents spend just 24.75 percent of their household income on rent, mortgage payments, utilities and taxes.

4. Grand Rapids, Michigan

4. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids, MI, USA - June 7, 2007: People on the Pedestrian bridge over the Grand River in Grand Rapids MI

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 12
Metro Population: 1,028,173
Median Annual Salary: $43,610
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 24.6 percent

Money goes further in Grand Rapids than most parts of the U.S. While the median annual salary is below the national average of $49,630, the metro area makes up for it with residents spending just 24.6 percent of the household income on housing.

3. Des Moines, Iowa

3. Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa skyline from the summer of 2013. Taken from the Mercy Holiday Inn

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 4
Metro Population: 611,755
Median Annual Salary: $49,420
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 23.52 percent

Despite maintaining a low cost of living – just 23.52 percent of the household income – Des Moines, previously the No. 1 Best Affordable Place to Live for two years running, has been beaten out this year by two metro areas offering an even more affordable cost of living.

2. Fort Wayne, Indiana

2. Fort Wayne, Indiana

Downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana Skyline, including Allen County Courthouse.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 40
Metro Population: 426,755
Median Annual Salary: $42,250
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 22.86 percent

Both Fort Wayne and the No. 1 Best Affordable Place to Live appear on the list for the first time. These smaller metro areas, both with fewer than a half-million residents, make it easy to cover housing expenses with the average household income.

1. Huntsville, Alabama

1. Huntsville, Alabama

A daytime cityscape of Huntsville, Al.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live Rank: 7
Metro Population: 440,230
Median Annual Salary: $52,960
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 22.56 percent

Huntsville is the most affordable place to live out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. An above-average median annual salary and low cost of living mean Huntsville residents are keeping more in their pockets for other things. Just 22.56 percent of the median household income goes toward housing costs.

Read More

Tags: real estate, housing, housing market, home prices, new home sales, existing home sales, pending home sales, moving, Austin


Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.

Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at dthorsby@usnews.com.

Recommended Articles

What Is a BPO in Real Estate?

Devon Thorsby | March 20, 2019

Here's what to know about a broker price opinion, how it's calculated and if you should get one.

Are You Ready To Buy a Home?

Wendy Arriz | March 19, 2019

For the millennial generation, homeownership can still be intimidating. Here's what you should consider before making an offer.

Decorate Your Apartment on the Cheap

Devon Thorsby | March 15, 2019

A short lease doesn't mean you can't make your apartment feel like home.

What Data Points Tell You About Housing

Dima Williams | March 14, 2019

From home prices and sales to construction and mortgage rates, these are the real estate gauges to watch.

The Best Places to Live in California

Devon Thorsby | March 13, 2019

See how 12 metro areas in California compare to each other.

Finding the Wow Factor in a Home

Steven Gottlieb | March 12, 2019

Which special qualities in a home will have you making an offer, and why you may need to compromise on other details to get them.

Design Trends to Look Out for in 2019

Devon Thorsby | March 8, 2019

Which decor fads are on their way in, and which ones should you ditch in the coming year?

Why You Should Sell Your Home in 2019

Devon Thorsby | March 7, 2019

Housing markets may not be as hot as previous years, but selling now could be your best bet.

Best Places to Live in South Carolina

Devon Thorsby | March 6, 2019

See how the largest metro areas in the Palmetto State measure up.

Finding Comparable Neighborhoods

Lisa Larson | March 5, 2019

It's possible to find a neighborhood that checks off your wish list without breaking your budget.

How Companies Change a Housing Market

Sally Forster Jones | March 4, 2019

New office campuses bring soaring prices and low housing inventory, but that's just the start.

Difference Between Real Estate Titles

Devon Thorsby | March 1, 2019

How to decipher a real estate pro's title – and decide whether it makes a difference when hiring one.

The Best Places to Live Near the Beach

Devon Thorsby | Feb. 28, 2019

Find out which places offer the most access to the ocean, sand and sunshine.

Red Flags to Help You Spot a Rental Scam

Devon Thorsby | Feb. 22, 2019

Avoid falling victim to online rental scams by knowing the most common tricks.

How Do I Find My Property Lines?

Devon Thorsby | Feb. 21, 2019

The best ways for homeowners to determine the exact boundaries of the lot their house sits on.

4 Home Devices Your Dog Needs

Sally Forster Jones | Feb. 21, 2019

Take advantage of new technologies you can incorporate into your home to benefit your family’s furry friends.

What to Know: Tenant Rights in Texas

Devon Thorsby | Feb. 15, 2019

Here's how renters in Texas fare when facing a dispute with their landlord.

Measuring Your Home's Square Footage

Devon Thorsby | Feb. 13, 2019

Know exactly how big your house is, and maximize the way you use it.

5 Travel-Inspired Home Decorating Ideas

Sally Forster Jones | Feb. 12, 2019

Transform your home's interior with a few simple projects that highlight the time you've spent in other parts of the world.

What to Know About a Pending Home Sale

Devon Thorsby | Feb. 8, 2019

As the buyer, seller or interested outside party, here's what you need to do while a real estate deal is pending.