Forts and Insurance

The combination creates a steady economy.

New-home closings 2010 6,951, 21% of the market
Average square foot price $98
Median new-home price $189,349, up 8.8% in two years 1) Median new-home prices in San Antonio climbed for three of the last eight quarters and were flat for a fourth. While low wages are the rule rather than the exception, a strong military presence at Lackland Air Force Base, Fort Sam Houston, and Randolph Air Force Base, as well as a growing population, have helped keep the economy and the new-home market relatively stable during the downturn. The city’s financial activities sector added 1,400 jobs last year, and Nationwide’s expected relocation to the area would add 800 more jobs. USAA Insurance already employs 14,857 workers here.

Government Green

Federal stimulus money boosts Augusta, Ga., employment.

New-home closings 2010 1,917, 32% of the market
Average square foot price $94
Median new-home price $180,353, up 10% in two years

2) Thanks to new jobs in energy, goosed by federal grant money, median new-home prices rose for seven of the last eight quarters in the Augusta market. Augusta’s non-farm employment climbed by 3,200 in the last 12 months ending in September, even as the national employment growth was virtually stagnant. Construction of the first new nuclear power plant in the U.S. in 30 years, and an $800 million biomass plant will bring more jobs. A federal grant has already put 10,700 people to work at a nuclear waste treatment plant in the area.

Beating Heartland

Strong and steady economic fundamentals keep homes appreciating.

New-home closings 2010 1,505, 18% of the market
Average square foot price $119
Median new-home price $195,000, up 10.8% in two years

3) The Des Moines market is one of the strongest in the nation with unemployment at about 6.9 percent, well below the national average. Five of the last eight quarters have shown increased new-home sales prices, with four of those five positive quarters coming in 2010.

Hyper–Active Adults

Boomer buyers keep flocking to this Disney for seniors.

Courtesy The Villages

New-home closings 2010 2,208, 56% of the market
Average square foot price $165
Median new-home price $222,807, up 9.2% in two years 4)The Villages is a company town where the main businesses are home building and cultivating retiree happiness. Actually, this development, which sprawls across three counties, isn’t a town at all but a series of neighborhoods with 85,000 residents built around two town centers. Sure the recession has hit this hyper–active adult community south of Ocala, Fla., where, at the peak of the market more than 4,000 homes were sold each year. Still, The Villages added 2,208 new homes in 2010. And new-home prices rose for four of the last eight quarters and were flat for a fifth.

Booming Business

The birthplace of the nuclear bomb is now dubbed family friendly.

New-home closings 2010 1,264, 30% of the market
Average square foot price $126
Median new-home price $196,380, up 12.4% in two years

5) Farms and federal government projects keep the economy humming in this tri-city market in Washington. New-home prices have climbed here for four out of the last eight quarters with precipitous rises in the last half of 2010: 23 percent in the third and 12 percent in the fourth quarter. A Kiplinger-rated top 10 place to raise a family, the area gained fame at the end of World War II because Hanford, a now decommissioned nuclear research area, was home to the first full-scale plutonium production reactor in the world. Plutonium manufactured at the site was used in Fat Man, the bomb detonated over Nagasaki, Japan. Battelle/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, one of 10 U.S. Department of Energy’s laboratories, is the area’s largest employer with 4,485 workers.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Antonio, TX, Ocala, FL, Augusta, GA.