The four-bedroom, two-bathroom single-family home has been called "aspirational" by real estate industry leaders such as Jim Gillespie, the Chief Executive Officer of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. The idea of a nuclear family living in one dwelling is a post-industrial norm that most of us take for granted. However, the rise of the single-family home was tied to an increase in modern living standards, and ownership has become a particular feature of the much vaunted "American Dream."
It's with this premise in mind that Coldwell Banker released its Home Listing Report (HLR) this week, a survey of average listing prices for four-bedroom, two-bathroom homes in more than 2,300 North American markets. The report has all sorts of fascinating numbers and statistics, but among the highlights is a index of the most affordable real estate housing markets. Using the example of the four-bedroom, two-bathroom single-family home as the yardstick, the report uses the average listing price for the period between September 2010 and March 2011 to compile its list.
So without further ado, here, with accompanying images of sample properties that match each locale's price points, are the Top Ten Most Affordable Spots for Family Homes. All images are provided courtesy of Coldwell Banker unless stated otherwise:
10. Sioux City, IA - $80,152
An indelible contributor to the portrait of the Midwest as America's heartland, the town is home to Stone State Park, and has twice been named an All-America City by the National Civic League. For a city, this one is on the smallish side, with 140,000 people calling it home.
In 2010 Forbes ranked Sioux City in the top 15 Best Places for Business and Careers. Good job prospects, along with clearly affordable housing and quiet neighborhoods, render the town an attractive settling place for growing families.
9. Trotwood, OH - $77,445
As of the 2010 Census, the population of this town registers at 27,431. Other claims to fame include the municipality's Hara Arena, where the annual Dayton Hamvention is held. Every year, thousands of Amateur Radio Operators from around the world descend on Trotwood to attend this convention.
Trotwood is also a haven for practitioners of the Methodist faith. The town is home to United Theological Seminary, one of thirteen seminaries of the United Methodist Church.
8. Lithonia, GA - $77,385
This town has a total area of 0.8 square miles, and a population of only 2,187 residents, but you can clearly buy a lot of beautiful home for your 77 grand.
The genesis of Lithonia's name is inspired by Stone Mountain, which is largely composed of Lithonia gneiss, a form of granite.
The Lithonia Lighting Company, a manufacturer of household light fixtures, is one of the area's largest employers, with headquarters in nearby Conyers.
7. Cleveland, OH - $76,042
This is the state of Ohio's second appearance on the list, and it may come as a surprise to see the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame carry such affordable home prices. However, the state, which has always seen its employment fortunes tied in large degree to manufacturing, has been particularly hard hit by the Great Recession. In 1990, 21.7 percent of the state's workforce labored in the manufacturing sector. Today that number hovers around 10 percent.
Between 2000 and 2010, Cleveland's population decreased by 17 percent, which, on the plus side, means a lot of unused housing stock, and a lot of great real estate deals like the home pictured above.
6. Hastings, FL - $74,910
Calling all snowbirds! Florida towns have always served as a warm weather haven for frigid Americans and Hastings, with an average annual temperature of 69 degrees, is no exception. This tiny hamlet of just over 600 residents offers unbelievable deals on aspirational homes in a perfect climate.
5. Detroit, MI - $73,363
It's no secret that the birthplace of Motown has been absolutely devastated by the downturn of the housing market. A shrinking population and a glut of foreclosed homes have combined to weigh down housing prices.
But with the successful turnaround of the big three automakers back to profitability, Detroit's fortunes may be looking up. Job creation could very well usher the return of home buyers.
4. College Park, GA - $72,477
This is Georgia's second appearance on the list. The town of less than 25,000 residents is nonetheless known for producing its share of celebrities, including R&B performers Ludacris and Monica.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is partially located within town boundaries, and College Park is also the home of the Georgia International Convention Center.
3. Coolidge, AZ - $69,083
Want to own this stunner for less than 70 thousand? Arizona is yet another state that has taken a whipping by the downward fortunes of the housing market. But for those looking for a beautiful home at a great price, Coolidge may fit the bill.
The small city boasts a population of less than 10,000 inhabitants, but is just 56 miles southeast of the much larger Phoenix, and 69 miles northwest of Tucson.
2. Riverdale, GA - $61,618
As the only state to appear on the list thrice, Georgia is clearly a great place for real estate bargain hunters and young families looking to purchase their first aspirational home. Birthplace of incarcerated rapper T.I., the town of less than 15,000 was also a major player in the Civil War. Curiosity seekers and history buffs can go there to tour the Marcus Long House, home to a fallen confederate soldier.
1. Niagara Falls, NY - $60,820
And according to Coldwell Banker's research, the #1 most affordable spot for family homes in none other than famed honeymoon destination Niagara Falls. It's hard to believe that you can buy this much home for the price of a 2011 Volvo C70, but nonetheless true.
Beautiful scenery and easy access to the Canadian border can be yours, and a down payment of 20 percent (about $12,000) can be saved quickly.
So what do you say? Would you like to buy a home in one of these affordable spots?
Most Affordable Cities for Family Homes is a multi-part series that looks at the most expensive and least affordable cities for family homes in America. Be sure to check out Most Expensive Cities for Family Homes.
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Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at ThinkGlink.com and The Equifax Personal Finance Blog, and is Chief Content Strategist at RealtyJoin.com, a community for real estate investors.