RealTrends Q32021 BrokerPulse sees brokers still optimistic about the market, wary of competition and wondering when inventory will rise.

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For the study, RealTrends surveyed all the firms on the 2021 RealTrends 500 and Nation’s Best rankings, asking for annual compensation data for the 2020 calendar year.

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Buyers can live large in smaller metropolitan areas

Big city life isn’t for everyone. With significant savings, hard-working people want to see their money working for them in this wild, wild west of a housing market. The world is still recovering from a pandemic and people have made notable lifestyle changes. Fewer people need to live close to their jobs and don’t miss the congestion of large metropolitan areas. 

Smaller, more rural housing is rising as the trendy place to buy a home, according to the Emerging Housing Markets Index by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and

The quarterly index examines areas with strong housing demand and rising prices combined with robust economies, good-paying jobs, and amenities such as shopping, timely commute to work and a tax boost. Smaller markets favored the list.

Six of the top 10 had prices listed under the national median of $385,000 in June. If homebuyers want spacious living at affordable prices, areas like Billings, Montana (No. 1), Waco, Texas (No. 7) and Raleigh, North Carolina (No. 5) are areas to consider for emerging housing markets.

What makes these metros an attractive place to move besides low-median prices? Billings, Montana has a business hub, which is home to oil refineries, medical facilities, and other careers attracting new residents. It also has a small downtown and plenty of outdoorsy activities.

Waco is 90 minutes away from Dallas and Austin is two hours south. It’s home to Baylor University and the city was put on the map by HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.” Homes in Waco are listed at a median of $290,000, compared with $387,000 in Dallas or $523,950 in Austin.

Raleigh has built its reputation as a science, tech, and engineering hub. The metro offers plenty of well-paid jobs and a significantly lower cost of living than California’s pricey San Francisco Bay Area, according to the report.

While prices are below the median price nationwide in many of these markets, that can always change. The report mentioned that it doesn’t rank markets by the current home price but rather by housing demand and other factors. The top 20 markets were affordable with a median listing price of $349,000 versus $361,000 for all 300 metro areas reviewed. The lower prices could mean more room for home prices to appreciate. According to the report, prices in the top 20 areas grew 13.7% year over year (2020-2021) compared with 8.0% on average among all 300 areas evaluated.

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