As I was thinking back, it occurred to me that I purchased my home 40 years ago this year. It was 113 Oconee Drive in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The year was 1970 and I bought it (with some help from my parents) for what seemed like a huge sum of money – less than $30,000. The home was three-bedrooms and two-bathrooms, and I still remember the brick, the ranch layout, the carport and having the first place I could call my own!

Today, Coldwell Banker is releasing its Home Listing Report, a snapshot of four-bedroom, two-bathroom homes listed on our site between February and August 2010. After looking through our data, I am once again struck by the opportunities available for many buyers. I thought back to South Carolina, and realized that the average listing price of a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Greenville (about 30 miles from my first home) is $254,986. This tells me that in spite of what we hear about national housing news, real estate continues to be a strong long-term investment for many people. It isn’t quite an apples-to-apples comparison, but just think about my South Carolina situation. Who knows – if I held onto that home from 1970, I could be looking at a value appreciation of 750 percent!

As someone who grew up on farms in Southern Illinois, I also get really excited about many of the amazingly affordable Midwestern markets reported in this year’s HLR, and the opportunities they provide people for whom home ownership makes sense. For a family purchasing a home in Detroit, for instance, (where the average listing price is just $68,000), a monthly mortgage payment could total less than $350 a month. And Detroit isn’t alone in terms of affordability. There are 85 markets in the HLR with average reported listing prices less than $200,000 and 183 that are less than $300,000.

Topping our most expensive list this year is Newport Beach, California, where the average home listing price is $1,826,348. Years ago, I had the pleasure of living minutes away in San Clemente. That area has the beautiful contrast of mountain views on one side and Pacific Ocean on the other, and it’s pretty spectacular. No matter what part of our great country you call home, I hope our data is a helpful way to begin thinking about housing prices in different local cities and markets.

Finally, if anyone reading this lives near Spartanburg, I’d love to see pictures of my old street and hometown!