How did this happen? It’s a question I often ask myself. I am a lucky guy. I look back often at how far I’ve come in life and am amazed at how things have turned out. I’ve got a great wife, two amazing boys (and a dog), a job I enjoy and a home we love.

I’ve come a long way from my first $200 a month apartment in Providence, RI, that was home to a menagerie of insects that the landlord couldn’t get rid of. After that, it was a return to mom and dad’s for a while, then back to renting with roommates until meeting my wife. We bought our home in 1997 and recently completed an addition, so now it’s four bedrooms and 2 baths. It’s modest, but at the same time, it’s a dream house, an aspiration that I never thought I would achieve.

Even though we are not planning to move and quite frankly hope we never have to, I routinely wonder what my house would cost in other places. Since I travel some for work, I am lucky to see different parts of the country and always enjoy learning how our 4 bed/2 bath home would compare in cost around the nation.

In preparing for today’s launch of the Coldwell Banker Home Listing Report, I recently visited Los Altos, CA, the most expensive market in the nation where such a home might cost more than $1.7 million. The findings of the HLR made me feel pretty good! A house like ours in Westfield, NJ, would be a steal at $ $726,974.

But when I visited Kansas City ($134,086), Houston ($178,881), Nashville ($215,135)? Oops. I didn’t feel so hot. But I did start thinking what I might do with an extra $500K or so.

Working in real estate, I am keenly aware of the multitude of housing studies that exist. The National Association of Realtors has a few. Case Schiller. CoreLogic. Throw in our own “Best Places to Live” series or similar ones like Money Magazine’s and there is no doubt you could swim in data for days.
Most use “median” home prices. I know the definition of median is the halfway point on a list, but how does that compute to a home? I’ve never been able to go from community to community and see actual median homes.

But that’s the beauty of the HLR. In over 2500 markets, we get a glimpse of what the same type of home would cost. You can use it for fun. Florida fans might cheer, “Our homes are cheaper than yours!” when they meet arch-rival Florida State – Gainesville ($225,991) vs. Tallahassee ($231,555).

You can use the HLR to compare home prices around the nation like I do or you can use it to dream about what it would be like to live someplace else. The HLR gives you insight, great insight. The HLR also has incredible practical purposes especially for those contemplating a move or in the relocation process.

I think of a friend who was moving from Bentonville, Ark. ($235,312) to the Silicon Valley where Los Altos is. She knew the cost of living would be more, but I’m not sure she knew it might be THAT much more, possibly a whopping $1.5 million for this type of home.

Take a look at this year’s HLR Most Expensive And Affordable Places Infographic to learn who inhabits America’s most expensive and affordable cities:

HLR Info 2012 Coldwell Banker Home Listing Report

Click to Enlarge

 

However you use the HLR I hope you find the study valuable. Coldwell Banker Real Estate has been doing this type of survey this since the early 1980s and it’s one of my favorite projects of the year. Enjoy!