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The Most Expensive U.S. ZIP Codes (2012 Edition)

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Most expensive ZIP codes in the U.S.Since late-2011, home values have climbed in many U.S. markets.

The government’s Home Price index puts the increase at +3.7% an annual basis and the National Association of REALTORS® shows home sale prices up 11% since last year.

The price at which a home sells is determined by the economic force of supply-and-demand but location and amenities matter, too; establishing a baseline from which supply-and-demand can work. 

Using data compiled by real estate market data firm Altos Research, Forbes Magazine recently presented America’s 10 most expensive ZIP codes for 2012. California and the New York Metro area dominate the list.

  1. New York, NY (10065) : $6,534,430
  2. Alpine, NJ (07620) : $5,745,038
  3. Atherton, CA (94027) : $4,897,864
  4. Sagaponack, NY (11962) : $4,180,385
  5. Hillsborough, CA (94010) : $4,127,250
  6. New York, NY (10014) : $4,116,506
  7. Los Altos Hills, CA (94022) : $4,016,050
  8. New York, NY (10021) : $3,980,829
  9. Rolling Hills, CA (90274) : $3,972,500
  10. New York, NY (10075) : $3,885,409

As an illustration of how home prices have climbed since Forbes publishes last year’s Most Expensive ZIP code list, this year’s #10 — Upper East Side, New York City, New York — would have ranked third in 2011.

The Forbes list may be interesting but, to home buyers or sellers , it’s far from the final word in home values. Real estate remains a local market which means that — even within a given ZIP code — prices can vary based on street and neighborhood, and home characteristics.

Look past the general data and get to the specifics. Talk to your real estate agent for local market pricing.

The Top 10 Cities In Which To Raise A Family

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Great places to raise a familyLooking for a great place to raise a family? Forbes Magazine has a list that may help you.

Titled “The Best Cities For Raising A Family“, Forbes has compiled and analyzed data from America’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, accounting for seven lifestyle factors including cost of living, commuting ease, school quality, crime density, and home affordability.

Given these selection criteria, it’s no surprise that Grand Rapids, Michigan took top honors. The area’s low median income is offset by an extremely low cost of living and a school system that’s among the best in the nation. Nearly 90% of the homes in Grand Rapids are affordable families earning the median income — the seventh-highest affordability ranking in the country — and commutes are quick.

Since the housing peak, home prices are down just 12% in Grand Rapids — a figure below the national average.

The complete Top 10 list for the Forbes “The Best Cities For Raising A Family” piece were:

  1. Grand Rapids, Michigan
  2. Boise, Idaho
  3. Provo, Utah
  4. Youngstown, Ohio
  5. Raleigh, North Carolina
  6. Poughkeepsie, New York
  7. Omaha, Nebraska
  8. Ogden, Utah
  9. Cincinnati, Ohio
  10. Worcester, Massachusetts

Now, before you make a home-buying decision based on the Forbes report, remember that real estate is a local market and even city-wide statistics can be too broad to be helpful to everyday home buyers. Even within Grand Rapids, there are some neighborhoods that outperform in terms of home valuations and school quality, for example; and some areas from which a daily work commute may be more cumbersome. 

For accurate, real-time housing data for any of the above markets , be sure to ask a real estate professional.

America’s Best Places To Raise A Family, Listed By State

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Great Places To Raise A FamilyBusinessWeek recently released its 2011 America’s Best Place to Raise a Family rankings. College-town Blacksburg, Virginia took top honors, breaking a 2-year win streak for the Chicago, Illinois region.

In 2009, suburban Mount Prospect, Illinois placed first. Last year, it was Tinley Park, Illinois.

The BusinessWeek report employs data from real estate information firm Onboard Informatics to make its rankings, compiling data across categories such as education, crime, and jobs plus access to parks and affordable homes. All selections are limited by population; all selections are home to 50,000 residents or fewer. Median incomes are within 20 percent — plus or minus — of the state’s median income levels.

BusinessWeek names one winner in each state. The winners in the 10 most populous states and their nearest “big city” are listed below

  1. California : East San Gabriel (Los Angeles)
  2. Texas : Wells Branch (Austin)
  3. New York : Hampton Manor (Albany)
  4. Florida : Niceville (Fort Walton Beach)
  5. Illinois : Morton Grove (Chicago)
  6. Pennsylvania : Cecil-Bishop (Pittsburgh)
  7. Ohio : St. Henry (Dayton)
  8. Michigan : Spring Arbor (Jackson)
  9. Georgia : Hoschton (Atlanta)
  10. North Carolina : Tryon (Spartanburg, SC)

The winners in all 50 states can be found on the BusinessWeek website.

Rankings like the BusinessWeek America’s Best Place to Raise a Family can be useful for home buyers , but like everything in real estate, statistics do not apply to every home equally. Even within the “best towns”, there are areas in which school systems are better, crime figures are lower, and amenities are more plentiful.

Therefore, before you make the decision to buy a home, talk with a real estate agent who has local market knowledge. It’s the most effective means to get data that matters to you.

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