If the cheap cost of living used to be one of the perks of working overseas, today’s corporate middle-manager may find a better deal on a home if she’s transferred to Detroit than Hanoi.

If the cheap cost of living used to be one of the perks of working overseas, today’s corporate middle-manager may find a better deal on a home if she’s transferred to Detroit than Hanoi. 

That’s according to Coldwell Banker Real Estate’s annual Home Price Comparison Index, which compares similar 2,200-square-foot homes in 310 U.S. housing markets, and in 57 markets in 29 countries outside the U.S.

Comparing like homes sets the report apart from others that simply compare median home prices, Coldwell Banker said.

"The four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home is one we deem ‘aspirational’ and usually purchased by move-up buyers experiencing lifestyle changes," said Jim Gillespie, president and chief executive officer of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC, in a statement.

Coldwell Banker’s aspirational home must also include a family room or its equivalent, a two-car garage, and be located in a market "typical for corporate middle-management transferees."

In 30 percent of markets surveyed, such a home could be had for less than $200,000 — illustrating the opportunity to take advantage of price declines, low interest rates, and an increased selection of homes, Gillespie said.

The study found eight of the 10 most expensive U.S. housing markets are in California, while a list of the 10 most affordable markets is dominated by communities in "flyover" states like Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Georgia, Wisconsin and Kansas.

Grayling, Mich. — a city of about 1,800 where the Census Bureau reported the median family income was less than $30,000 — ranked as the most affordable market in America. Coldwell Banker’s "aspirational home" was available in Grayling for $112,675, on average. …CONTINUED

The nine other cities on the most affordable list were Akron, Ohio ($121,885); Fayetteville, N.C. ($130,875); Canton, Ohio ($131,867); Detroit ($132,000); Arlington, Texas ($138,775); Macon, Ga. ($139,007); Eau Claire, Wis. ($141,270); Port Charlotte, Fla. ($142,750); and Wichita, Kan. ($144,625).

At the other end of the spectrum was San Diego’s wealthy La Jolla district, where a 2,200-square-foot home might be viewed as modest, but would nevertheless set a new owner back $2.12 million on average.

Rounding out the most expensive U.S. housing markets on Coldwell Banker’s list were Beverly Hills, Calif. ($1.98 million); Greenwich, Conn. ($1.52 million); Palo Alto, Calif. ($1.49 million); Santa Monica, Calif. ($1.46 million); San Francisco ($1.36 million); Boston ($1.34 million); Newport Beach, Calif. ($1.31 million); Palos Verdes, Calif. ($1.24 million); and San Mateo, Calif. ($1.09 million).

New York City’s Manhattan district was excluded from the study because of the lack of comparable single-family homes. But the study did include comparisons for Puerto Rico, Canada and a sampling of international markets where Coldwell Banker Real Estate has a presence.

In Canada, Vancouver, B.C., was the most expensive market ($1.17 million U.S.), followed by Toronto, Ontario ($766,643); Burnaby, B.C. ($611,243); and Fort McMurray, Alberta ($593,340), Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, was Canada’s most affordable market, with aspirational homes priced at $147,560.

The most expensive market outside the United States was Singapore, where Coldwell Banker’s "aspirational home" averaged $1.9 million U.S. dollars.

While other countries offered greater affordability, it might be tough for corporate middle-management transferees to find a better deal on an aspirational home than those on the market in Grayling, Detroit or other communities on Coldwell Banker’s list of most affordable U.S. markets.

Overseas cities where buyers should expect to spend more included Hanoi, Vietnam ($166,470); Bogota, Columbia ($182,926); Cairo, Egypt ($273,393); and Beirut, Lebanon ($512,000).


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