The 2017 Housing Market: The Hottest Markets

Looking to buy a home in 2017? In the final post of the series, Real Estate Market Specialist Les Christie gives us the scoop on the top housing markets in the U.S. for the coming year.

In the first and second posts of the series, we looked at the reasons why 2017 might be slated to be a strong year in real estate. Looking to buy? In today’s post we’ll explore the nation’s hottest housing markets.

According to, which surveyed the 100 largest U.S. housing markets, of the 10 that will record the highest combination of sales and price gains, six are in western states. Three of the top 10 are in the South and one, the Boston metro area, is in the Northeast.

These hot markets share several characteristics: a growing population, low unemployment, and strong hiring. They also tend to have a high percentage of millennials and baby boomers in their populations and their economies are buoyed by heavy doses of growth industries such as tech and health care.

Phoenix rising

Phoenix, for example, rated number one by, has a vibrant tech sector led by Avnet and Intel, and a strong health care component. Its population has grown more than 8% since 2010.

But a prime reason for its hot market status is that it is roaring back after taking a severe hit in the housing bust. Phoenix suffered during the foreclosure crisis, with as many as one in every 20 homes in default. Many owners lost their homes and became renters. At one time there were more than 100,000 vacant homes in the metro area, just sitting empty.

Home prices fell by nearly 60% starting in 2006, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case/Shiller Home Price Index. Few people were buying. That meant a big build up of pent-up demand for homes, and when the economy came back, so did the housing market. Since prices had fallen so far, the price gains are very dramatic, percentage wise.

Not just Disney

Another winner, Orlando, Fla., has piggybacked on its traditional strength, tourism, and has grown a large, innovative technology sector. Much of it focuses on game and mobile app development, digital media and film, and post-production. Many of the new businesses were spawned by the Disney Company, which employs thousands of tech workers.

The jobs pay well and homes in Orlando are still affordable at a median price of just under $230,000 for homes sold during the three months ended September 30. Metro area prices are still under the national median. The year-over-year jump in median price came in at double digits, however — more than 14%, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Los Angeles is the biggest market on the hottest list, with a metro area population of more than 18 million. Its median home price is already among the highest in the nation, more than half a million dollars for a single-family home. And that includes vast exurbs far from the city’s urban centers. Prices picked up another 5.1% year-over-year in the third quarter, but demand for homes has not slackened. Predicted sales growth in 2017 is 6% even though prices are set to rise nearly 7%.

Other hot western cities are Portland, Ore., Tucson, Ariz., Sacramento, Calif., and Riverside, Calif.

In Florida, Jacksonville’s price forecast is for a 4.8% gain on a 7% rise in sales. The city boasts a diversified economy, which helps it withstand the up and down cycles of any one industry. It has a strong financial sector, is a major transportation and distribution hub, and has become a major destination for health care patients. The Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, attracts patients from all over the South. The median price was up more than 12% year-over-year in the third quarter.

Raleigh, N.C., rated eighth on the list, lies at the center of North Carolina’s Research Triangle, a major source of well-paid STEM jobs. Young professionals form the core of the real estate market there. The median home price, at about $250, 000, has been running ahead of the national median but remains affordable for this well-paid cohort. Prices are expected to rise more than 4% and sales will jump 7.6% in 2017.

Reaching peaks

Other markets that have soared during the past few years may be too hot not to cool down. The San Jose metro area, Silicon Valley, has become the first major market in the nation where the median price has surpassed $1 million, according to NAR’s latest report. Prices may continue to climb there, but home sales may not. There is such a shortage of inventory that many owners are hanging on to what they’ve got.

San Franciscans, many of whom work in Silicon Valley, as well as local tech companies, face similar obstacles. There’s plenty of demand for affordable homes, but very little supply, putting a damper on sales. Other places with inventory issues include Seattle, Orange County, Calif., Washington, D.C, and San Diego.

If developers can gear up production again to housing boom levels, those shortages could improve, and sales could rise to still higher levels in these hot markets.


Les is a Real Estate Market Specialist for Coldwell Banker Real Estate.

Born and raised in Whitestone, N.Y., and never having lived outside of NYC, Les is a graduate of City College of New York in Manhattan. Les switched careers in his late 30s, studying writing at New School and Brooklyn Polytechnic, now the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering. Les has written for several magazines and copyedited books on early childhood education prior to joining CNNMoney as a personal finance writer, where his main beat was real estate. His wife and partner of 42 years is a retired magazine editor who spent her career at the New York Zoological Society (Bronx Zoo). They are residents of the Upper West Side.

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1 Comment

  1. k. blake
    January 4, 2017

    I grew up in Whitestone too


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