5. Austin, Tex.
> Job growth: 3.5%
> Vacancy rate: 1.2%
> Construction permits: 21.5 per 1,000 homes
The Austin metropolitan area has benefited from a combination of job growth and declining vacancy rates.The 3.5% job growth in the first 10 months of 2012 was the third largest of all metro areas driven by a surge in job growth in sectors such as technology, education, healthcare and construction. Meanwhile, the 1.2% vacancy rate was the third-lowest of all metropolitan areas. Construction levels were at 120% of local historical normal levels in the first eight months of 2012, while there were 21.5 construction permits per 1,000 residents in the first 10 months. Both figures were better than any of the 100 largest housing markets.
4. San Antonio, Texas
> Job growth: 2.7%
> Vacancy rate: 2.8%
> Construction permits: 8.5 per 1,000 homes
San Antonio is one of four top housing markets for 2013 located in Texas. Through November, the median asking price per square foot in the area was just $88.44, less than nearly two-thirds of the nation’s largest real estate markets. Also, as of November, asking prices in the area had risen just 0.8% from the year before, less than any other top market for 2013. But like other areas in Texas, including Austin, Fort Worth and Houston, San Antonio is building rapidly. For the first 10 months of 2012, there were 8.5 construction permits per 1,000 units in the metro area, faster than all but 14 other areas in the United States. The region also was relatively unaffected by the housing crisis, as home prices fell by 3.2% from peak-to-trough.
3. Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, Md.
> Job growth: 2.8%
> Vacancy rate: 1.2%
> Construction permits: 6.7 per 1,000 homes
The 2.8% job growth in the first 10 months of 2012 was one of the highest rates in the United States. Area home prices have been pushed upwards by limited supply: the Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick area had one of the nation’s lowest vacancy rates, at 1.2% in November, as well as one of its lowest foreclosure inventories, at just 2.7 homes per 1,000 units during October. Through November, the asking price per square foot for homes in the area was lower than only 14 other metro areas. Over the last year, asking prices have risen just 5.5% and median price per square foot was $169.15, slightly higher than Washington, D.C.
2. San Francisco, Calif.
> Job growth: 3.4%
> Vacancy rate: 1.7%
> Construction permits: 4.6 per 1,000 homes
The big thing going for the San Francisco housing market has been its job market, which grew by 3.4% during the first 10 months of the year. This was fourth-highest job growth of the top 100 metro areas. Even with the market taking a bigger hit than most during the housing downturn, it has made a comeback recently. Year-over-year asking prices as of the end of November were up 9.5%, among the best growth in the country. San Francisco homes were the most expensive on a square foot basis, with a median square foot asking price of $476.55 within the last 12 months.
1. Houston, Tex.
> Job growth: 3.6%
> Vacancy rate: 3.0%
> Construction permits: 15.4 per 1,000 homes
Houston is projected to be the nation’s strongest housing market in 2013. The area’s job market grew by 3.6% over the previous year through October — higher than any other major housing market. At 7.7 homes per 1,000 units, the area also had a larger foreclosure inventory than many of the other top markets for 2013. Asking prices also remained low despite growing demand at a median of just $86.03 per square foot — lower than most major markets. According to Trulia’s Kolko, “affordable home prices have attracted people and jobs to Houston, and in turn, we’ve seen strong construction activity continue there.” Commercial real estate is also booming, according to The New York Times, with especially high demand for properties in the Woodlands planned community.
Michael B. Sauter, Samuel Weigley and Alexander E. M. Hess