Newspapers thrive catchy headlines that can sum up the drama of the day. But it’s important to read with a critical eye, especially when you see a blanket statement at the top of the page like “National Home Sales Plummet.” The headline looks good, and it’s likely to turn heads, but how true is it? It may be true on average in recent years that fewer homes are being sold across the United States, and at lower prices. But many large markets across the nation are doing well, or improving. Unfortunately nothing gets in the way of a good headline like subtlety, and those inconvenient subtleties have forced the media to cast a shadow over some very bright real estate stories.
One of those bright stories is the Kansas City, Missouri real estate market. Home sales here have been especially strong in recent years, and show no signs of slowing. The area’s strong economy is attracting new residents from across the nation, and home construction has risen to meet the demand for real estate. Kansas City’s central location on the U.S. map also makes it an ideal spot for corporate headquarters, with five Fortune 500 companies, and the privately owned Hallmark Cards, based here. Spread across more than 500 square miles, Kansas City offers a lot of room for expansion, and more than 150 attractive neighborhoods.
Kansas City is more than just an isolated success story – it’s good example of why the national real estate market appears more stalled than it really is. Home prices here didn’t skyrocket during the real estate boom of the early part of the decade, and were unaffected when the markets softened in other parts of the nation. Instead, local home prices have risen steadily through the boom and afterwards, making the area particularly attractive to investors.
While more expensive real estate markets such as Marin County California, and Montgomery County, Maryland, have slowed, many affordable markets, like Kansas City have thrived. The Kansas City example is mirrored on a larger scale in Detroit, Michigan, where home sales have risen nearly ten per cent annually in recent years. Other strong markets after the boom include Madison, Wisconsin, and Phoenix Arizona.
While it’s clear some real estate markets aren’t as strong as they were a few years ago, areas like Kansas City, and Detroit can show us how national average home values could fall while still being as strong as ever in many places. That’s something the newspaper headlines don’t always mention.