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The Midwest: Hot or Not?

Posted by: Maya Roney on May 16, 2007

If you haven’t already, check out our list of the best affordable suburbs in the Midwest. Many of these towns have median home prices well-below the national median, and great schools and low crime to boot.

They almost seem too good to be true.

These are all great places to live (feel free to argue with me) that were determined to have stable housing markets (a must for our list). But truth be told, all is not well in Midwest real estate. If you had chance to look over the Census Bureau’s report on April housing starts this morning, you probably noticed that starts in the Midwest region fell 14.2% last month, versus a 7.8% increase in the West, a 31.3% increase in the Northeast, a 0.1% dip in the South, and a 2.5% rise overall. (See my article on housing starts).

Sluggish economic growth and rising unemployment in parts of the Midwest has also sent foreclosure activity soaring in the region— Ohio, Illinois and Michigan all made it the into the top-ten list of states with the highest foreclosure rates in April (click here for the full list). Ohio had the third-highest foreclosure total in the nation in April, and Akron had the ninth-highest metro-area foreclosure rate in the country, with one filing for every 216 households.

Should Midwestern homeowners—and future Midwestern homeowners— be concerned? Before you wipe image of suburban Midwestern perfection out of your mind, remember that the region does have a couple things going for it: when speculators drove prices up in other parts of the country, homes in the Midwest appreciated at a steadier pace, avoiding the dreaded “bubble” and keeping homes as they should be— affordable.



BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.

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