I live in the surprisingly large suburban city of Mesa, Ariz., ranked No. 38 nationally by population. My house sits about 20 miles from downtown Phoenix (No. 6 in population), so I keep a close eye on the local economy and housing market, all of which have been absolutely miserable since the start of the recession about four years ago.

Indeed, the Phoenix metro is considered one of the great bust-ups of this downturn, along with some metros in Southern California, Las Vegas and Florida. Nevertheless, when considering the top five investor markets in the country, I would put the Phoenix metro at the top of the list for a couple of reasons.

First, because everything is cheap.

As a top-10 foreclosure market, the abundance of bank-owned properties coming back into the market has put extreme pressure on pricing. In February, the median price for homes sold in Maricopa County (home to Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, etc.) was $127,500, down dramatically from $140,000 in February of the prior year. However, it was slightly more than in January, which hopefully means the Phoenix housing market is stabilizing.

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