Detroit leads housing-market rebound as top 'turnaround' town

The Motor City's for-sale inventory is down 24.5 percent year over year.

By MSN Real Estate partner Oct 31, 2013 9:24AM

Image: Detroit © Vladimir Pcholkin/PhotographerBy Housing markets in Detroit, Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Reno, Nev.; led the the nation in recovery in the third quarter of this year, as nationwide inventories of homes for sale shrunk and median list prices rose, according to the latest analysis from


The Turnaround Towns Report for the third quarter found that the median age of inventory across the United States dropped 17.7 percent over the same period in 2012, with typical homes selling in 84 days between July and September of this year. Median list prices rose 7.6 percent year-over-year to $199,128 in the third quarter, and the number of homes available on the market dropped by 3.3 percent year-over-year, with an average of 1.96 million homes on the market on any given day in the period, according to the report.


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Most noteworthy in the third quarter of 2013 was the acceleration in markets that have been less impacted by the highs and lows of the past several years, such as Ann Arbor, Mich.; Dallas, Boston and Boulder, Colo. These markets have demonstrated more consistent, incremental improvement, and their appearance on the list may be a bellwether of stronger improvements in similar markets to come, as the national marketplace moves further into balance. All four placed within the top 25 accelerating markets in the previous quarter’s report.


“We’re noticing a clear split between markets that have experienced major highs and lows in recent years, and those that have proved more resilient,” said Errol Samuelson, president of “With the recent moderation in some of the more volatile markets, the subtler acceleration activity becomes more visible.”

Significant changes in economic factors in the coming months could still impact the strengthening market, including reduced affordability levels, rising mortgage rates, and federal fiscal uncertainty — both recent and ongoing. The National Association of Realtors reported in October that affordability had fallen to a five-year low as home-price increases easily outpaced income growth. The NAR also projected mortgage rates to rise to 5 percent by mid-summer of 2014, and warned that complications with the mortgage loan process resulting from the recent federal government shutdown could impact fourth-quarter sales closings.


Top Turnaround Towns


1. Detroit — Once the poster child for America’s ailing auto industry, Detroit has turned around its housing markets. Instead of sinking when the city of Detroit had just filed for bankruptcy, its housing markets took on a quiet resurgence. In the second quarter of this year it ranked seventh in the report, and this rapid jump to number one speaks volumes about its pace of acceleration.


With the end of the buying season, prices in Detroit slowed in the third quarter, falling 4.8 percent from the previous quarter but 44.3 percent above the third quarter of 2012. Equally important is Detroit’s success at trimming its for-sale inventory and the age of its inventory, down 24.5 percent and 33.9 percent respectively, year over year.


View of Santa Barbara, Calif. (© age fotostock/Alamy)2. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc, Calif. — Despite some tough competition by other hot markets, Santa Barbara moved up to second place due to the young age of its inventory and the noticeable decline in its inventory counts. This market is the only one in the top 10 list that appeared in the Turnaround Town Reports for the previous quarter, as well as the same period last year. This appearance, at number two, is its highest ranking to date and most likely due to its strong performance in categories such as median age of inventory improvement, as well as median list price improvement. It also is noteworthy that Santa Barbara is now the only remaining California market on this list, compared to reports from last quarter and the year-ago quarter, which were populated by six and seven California markets, respectively.


3. Reno, Nev. — With declining inventory and a drop in sales, this market is now moving into a far healthier balance than it experienced at this time last year. Achieving both this balance and healthy growth is a remarkable achievement for a market that lost significant amount of its value in years past. Through the third quarter of 2013, Reno has continued to reduce inventory at a rate of 19.8 percent and prices are up 28.2 percent compared to the third quarter of 2012.


4. Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — Still down 13.8 percent in the third quarter compared to year-ago levels, Fort Lauderdale’s inventory shortfall lit a fire this year under once-lagging prices. As inventories remained flat in recent months, prices in Fort Lauderdale rose in the third quarter. The region is entering a more buyer-leaning marketplace, with reports of sellers in Fort Lauderdale offering incentives to purchase, such as seller contributions to buyers’ closing costs and allowances for upgrades and renovations.


5. Ann Arbor, Mich. — Known primarily as the home of the University of Michigan, this smaller market just missed the top 10 ranking last quarter.  Ann Arbor scored in the top 20th percentile among 146 markets in three of the most critical areas: size of inventory, price gains and age of inventory. Together, these metrics almost entirely define a market’s turnaround potential. While an improving economy is part of the reason, a shrinking inventory of homes has put upward pressure on price.


6. Dallas — Another newcomer to the top 10 list, Dallas is one of those markets that did not rise much during the housing boom and did not fall very far either.  Its path to recovery has not been very steep at all, and as a result Dallas has rebounded more easily than some markets.


Inventories rose in the third quarter by 3.1 percent compared to the previous quarter, and down 15.72 percent year-over-year, as prices have risen, 10.6 percent over the third quarter of 2012. The seasonal inventory rise as the buying season ends could indeed have a dampening effect on prices.


7. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, Fla. —  Even though they are two of the wealthiest resort areas in the country, West Palm Beach and Boca Raton have had their share of challenges during the housing crash, not to mention Florida’s struggles with foreclosures. However, the West Palm-Boca market has taken the critical first step toward recovery.


While year-on-year inventory fell 20.7 percent in the third quarter, inventory counts fell 13.3 percent from the previous quarter, a sign that sellers are responding to higher prices and soon inventories will register positive gains.  More houses lagging on the market in the slower fall and winter seasons could bring prices quickly under control and help the area find its equilibrium on pace with the rest of the country.


Row houses in Boston, Mass. (©Walter Bibikow/Getty Images)8. Boston-Worcester-Lawrence-Lowell-Brockton, Mass.-N.H. — The greater Boston marketplace is a mainstay of the nation’s healthiest real estate economies. Like Dallas and Ann Arbor, it was less seriously hampered by the housing crash of recent years. With the median list price at $344,900 in the third quarter, Boston is also one of the wealthier markets in the nation. However, like many markets that suffered greatly at the hands of foreclosures, Boston cut its inventory deeply in recent years, earning fourth place in terms of inventory reduction during the third quarter of 2013.


Affordability was a serious issue in many Boston-area communities before the housing crash and now tight inventories have helped push median sales prices up 9.5 percent year-over-year in the third quarter.


9. Boulder-Longmont, Colo. — Tight inventory is also Boulder’s secret to landing on this quarter’s list. It trimmed its inventory of homes for sale by 18.1 percent compared to the third quarter of last year and ranked seventh in the nation for declining age of inventory.


Boulder’s already-thin housing supply was stretched further when heavy rains fell on the eastern slope of the Rockies in September, causing massive flooding in Boulder and El Paso counties.  However, Boulder’s relative health is worth remembering, and its likely quick return to its equalized buyer-seller home-buying marketplace is anticipated for later this year.


10. Las Vegas, Nev.-Arizona — Las Vegas was often cited as ground zero for the housing boom and bust.  Despite progress over the past several years, nearly half of Las Vegas homeowners are said to still be underwater on their mortgages.


As of the third quarter, the median list price at $169,900 was up 11 percent from $153,000 in the second quarter, and up 30.8 percent from $129,900 a year ago. In Las Vegas, the pendulum has been swinging in a positive direction long enough to qualify it for the list of top turnaround towns, ranking seventh in price increases and 12th in inventory decline.  Further, the pace of decline in age of inventory — down 23.5 percent compared to year-ago levels — places it within the top 25 percent of markets in the country, a clear sign of favorable momentum.


How crunches the data
The Turnaround Towns Report uses a proprietary algorithm that evaluates acceleration in key housing indicators observed on over the quarter — inventory, median list price, and days on market, as well as weighted search and listing activity on Data is drawn from real-time listing counts through direct relationships with more than 800 multiple listing services around the country, representing 98 percent of all for-sale properties in the United States.


“The Turnaround Towns report algorithm was a game-changer in next-gen real estate analytics — a holistic perspective on real-time market statistics like price and inventory in the context of consumer search metrics, weighted proportionally across the country to effectively measure apples-to-apples market acceleration,” Samuelson said.


“It has offered tremendous insight into market dynamics during one of the most dramatic periods of economic volatility in a century, and enabled us to be the first to surface acceleration trends in many cases.  In 2014 we will further evolve this trend watch tool and continue to focus on revealing standout markets as we identify, track and measure emerging developments in the marketplace at the national, regional and local levels.”


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Nov 6, 2013 7:59PM
I for one will try investing. I come from Chicago and I have seen neighborhoods that rivaled Detroit go from beat up to white women pushing strollers that cost as much as a motorcycle. Always buy low!
Nov 6, 2013 6:21PM
hehe yea, right sure!! deTOILET 'turned around it's housing' TRANSLATION: democraps pushing their propaganda again, detroit is a mess and a cataclysmic disaster brought on by democrap Marxist policies and rhetoric and now all of a sudden there' s turnaround?? ahahahahaha!! and who's buying those run-down rat infested piss-laden 'houses' the poor? LOL!! oh that's just toooooooooooo funny! even the rats in detroit are moving out!!
Nov 6, 2013 5:57PM

Therre are 3 types of lies. 


damn lies

and   Media

Nov 6, 2013 4:56PM
 Only the drooling stupid democrat media could tout Detroit as the example of  success, Of course if the moron democrat was not so stupid as to suck the wanker of this comical nonsense it would be entertaining. Jobless recovery wall street on welfare 47 million on food stamps lowest labor participation rate since 1978 Iraq Afghanistan Libya Egypt Russia ...................500 million and 4 years cant build a simple web page.........................Hello you freaky zombies are you alive? You morons should be outraged at the complete corrpted incompetent loser Obozo the gum flapping socialist clown.
Nov 6, 2013 4:49PM
And it is not Detroit, it is the burbs, Novi, Livonia, Ann Arbor, and if it is Detroit it is because they tore down all of the burned out shells.
Nov 6, 2013 1:20PM
You can buy a house in Detroit for about $100. Why wouldn't it show a resurgence? Of course, you're have to contend with the gangs, robberies, drugs, hookers, murders, drive-bys, and so on...
Nov 6, 2013 1:10PM
I live in the Detroit suburbs an hour north. As a resident of the area and knowing what the city is really like and what it has become in the last 20 years, NO! I would not buy a house there, nor go to a ball game (football OR baseball), but I do congratulate those that TRY to reinvent their area, as opposed to shortsighted hatred mongering like the last poster. Its very sad that sooooo many seem to have to populate the boards with political garbage that simply HAS NO PLACE IN THIS ARTICLE AT,........ALL!!!!!!!
Nov 6, 2013 10:39AM
You folks are out of your liberal minds. Detroit is the last place to live, St. Louis and E. St. Louis are no better, just smaller.
Nov 6, 2013 8:06AM

lots of lies in minority ville

pure trash town just like other northern towns infested with minoritys.

 Born in Brooklyn and seen it first hand. Sad that you can't speak the truth

without being called a rasist

Nov 6, 2013 7:42AM
This is an indication of-nothing, really.  WHY is the inventory down?  Because the houses were bought by foreign investors for $500 each?  How is that 'improvement'?
Nov 6, 2013 7:33AM
They reduced the number of for sale properties and the average age of those properties.... So are they selling these properties or just tearing them down???
Nov 6, 2013 7:31AM
Lots of homes selling in Detroit.  Some actually sell OVER 100 dollars.  So this would be a great time to get a great house for cheap and live in a dangerous, bankrupt, crime-ridden hell hole.  Enjoy!  Oh...the Democrats who have been in charge there for 50 years will take most of your salary in taxes, and their cousins will steal the rest soon enough.  Bargain!!
Nov 6, 2013 7:15AM
The economy is tanked in detroit and lots of unemployment.
Nov 6, 2013 5:24AM

"With the end of the buying season, prices in Detroit slowed in the third quarter, falling 4.8 percent from the previous quarter but 44.3 percent above the third quarter of 2012."


So a $5000.00 Detroit house now costs what, about $7000? So, so sad.  My grandparents lived and worked there when it was a thriving city and my parents wisely left in the 70s when things were beginning to tank.

Nov 6, 2013 4:46AM

Good to hear about Detroit,l'm soooooo happy to hear  that they electing a new Mayor

and housing market is on the rebound as top turnaround town. l hope that Real Estates

company get with the leaders in City and rebiuld that entired City,by.tearing down those

run down building and rebuild affordable housing and Apartment for the poor and middle

class people. thats a start,now let get it going for the city.


l just want to throw this in. l watch a lot cable t.v.. this!  david axe and rock,, those people

knew that they should have help President Obama whth that ACA,namely know as

Obama care..he(David) say that mushrooms were in there it's was a scares place,lousy excuse

huh.come on people get real,his statement didn't make any sense... at least

2 Democratic won.. thats a good reason for the President to push on...low score approval

rate is saying it's get better as time pass, this too ,will pass. President ,always

win,he will rebound,and he will  turn it Detroit.

l also think that President Staff that supervised that Health care Program, should

sued those insurance agency that misled.,President Obama,on those plans,

that were cancel,on certain people.President Obama were misled as well as

this group he high to set up ITT website. what we got here is misrepresentation.

and also misleading information.on this health care overall. by the insurance agency

and the ITT groups.


Nov 6, 2013 4:07AM
They spelled it wrong's Detoliet.  Not Detroit.  Come on MSN....
Nov 6, 2013 12:31AM
I lived in Detroit, Lompoc and Ann Arbor.  Was I good at finding great  housing or not???  Great I would say. 
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