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RISMEDIA, Sept. 28, 2007-“Location. Location. Location.” The age-old adage that defines home prices equates to a $2.1 million difference between the nation’s most expensive and affordable housing markets, according to the 2007 Coldwell Banker® Home Price Comparison Index (HPCI). This annual “apples to apples” comparison of similar middle management homes in 317 U.S. markets finds that Beverly Hills repeats as the most expensive market in the nation.

An average 2,200 square foot, 4 bedroom, 2 ½ bath home in Beverly Hills would cost $2.21 million. Yet, more than 1,400 miles away from the glitz of Rodeo Drive, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and Spago sits Killeen, Texas, the nation’s most affordable studied market where a home with similar characteristics would cost $136,725. Killeen residents rejoice in their fishing, hunting, boating and Friday Night Lights-type high school football passions while embracing their role as a support system for the family and troops based at Fort Hood.

Killeen is not the only military community to score well on the HPCI’s most affordable list. In fact, six of the nation’s 10 most affordable markets are also home to or located in close proximity to major U.S. military posts.

Serving as a “snapshot” study, the Coldwell Banker HPCI evaluates average home values for select 2,200 square foot single-family dwellings with four bedrooms, two and one-half baths, a family room (or equivalent) and a two-car garage1 in 394 markets across the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and a sampling of countries/territories outside of North America where Coldwell Banker has a presence.

The cumulative average sales price of the homes surveyed in the 317 U.S. markets (including one in Puerto Rico) covered in the Coldwell Banker HPCI is $422,343. By comparison, the National Association of Realtors reports the median price for all existing homes sold in the U.S., regardless of type, is $218,200.

“The real estate market has certainly changed over the last year,” says Jim Gillespie, president and chief executive officer of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. “I continue to point out that we can not make national blanket statements about appreciation and inventory. Real estate is a local business; with each market having its own story to tell.”

“People continue to move for lifestyle; they did before, they are today and they will tomorrow,” Gillespie adds.

Dublin is the most expensive studied market outside of North America where an HPCI subject home averages $2.1 million U.S. dollars. Coldwell Banker charts a total of 13 markets outside of the United States which average more than $1 million, including Milan ($1.9 million), Rome ($1.7 million) and Paris ($1.7 million). Bogotá, Colombia, ($140,100) is the most affordable foreign studied market. Several markets including Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh ($144,896), Charlottetown, Canada, ($157,630) and Granada, Nicaragua, ($158,375) also average below $200,000. Warsaw ($417,760) in Poland is the foreign market closest to the $422,343 U.S. average.

“There is greater movement of people around the world and it is not only American baby boomers and relocated workers moving outside the U.S.,” says Gillespie. “The National Association of Realtors® recently reported that 32% of all Realtors in the U.S. had at least one international client during the last year. Our HPCI serves as a guide for these world travelers and interested consumers to get a sense of how much a typical middle-management home may cost in various markets around the globe.”

Through the comprehensive HPCI section on www.coldwellbanker.com, prospective homebuyers and sellers can calculate what their homes may be worth in other areas in the United States and gather preliminary intelligence about the affordability of housing from one market to another.

Highlights and Top Market Lists

Beverly Hills, California, repeats as the most expensive U.S. market in the study ($2.2 million). Killeen, Texas, regains its 2005 crown as the nation’s most affordable market at $136,725. Minot, N.D., the most affordable market in 2006, saw five percent appreciation for the subject home over the last year and drops to second on the most affordable list ($139,033).

Eight of the top 10 most expensive markets in the U.S. are in California, but Greenwich, Connecticut, jumped from the eighth most expensive market a year ago to second this year ($2 million). Boston ($1.38 million) is the only other market outside of California to make the top 10 most expensive market list. In all, 16 U.S. markets exceed the $1 million average price for the surveyed home. Joining Greenwich and Boston on that list outside of California are Wellesley, Mass. ($1.19 million) and Ridgewood, N.J. ($1.01 million). Note: Manhattan in New York City was not included in the study because of the lack of comparable single-family homes.

Six of the most affordable U.S. markets are home to or nearby major military bases:

Killeen, Texas: Fort Hood (Killeen)
Minot, N.D.: Minot Air Force Base (Minot)
Arlington and Fort Worth, Texas: Naval Air Station Joint
Reserve Base (Fort Worth)
Wichita, Kansas: McConnell Air Force Base (Wichita)
Grayling, Mich.: Camp Grayling (Grayling)

“My situation is similar to so many in Killeen,” said Tom DeAngio, vice president of sales for Coldwell Banker United-Killeen. “My son will soon be deployed for his second tour of duty in Iraq, and I moved here to help my daughter-in-law and be with my two grandchildren. I couldn’t see them going through another year without assistance. This community does all it can to support the troops and their families. We have a lot of community events like fairs and concerts, along with high school football, to stay together.”

While the Northeast Corridor (from Maine to Washington, D.C.) and California combine for all but five of the most expensive 40 U.S. markets, only two locations from those regions (Augusta, Maine, and Binghamton, N.Y.) appear among the top 40 most affordable markets. Texas, led by Killeen, has eight of the study’s 40 most affordable markets.

The cumulative average sales price of the homes surveyed in the 317 U.S. markets (including one in Puerto Rico) covered in the Coldwell Banker HPCI is $422,343, which is only four-tenths of one percent lower than the 2006 average of $423,950. This change only reflects homes matching HPCI specifications in surveyed markets and is not necessarily reflective of overall market conditions. Although the HPCI focuses on a “snapshot” look at subject homes meeting study criteria and is not intended to show overall market conditions, a comparison of the 2007 and 2006 surveys indicates 148 markets saw a rise in value of the HPCI subject homes, compared to 139 that dipped. Markets that rank nearest to the HPCI national average sales price of $422,343 include Modesto, Calif., ($421,667), Minneapolis, Minn., ($415,767) and Frederick, Md., ($415,000).

Canada mirrors the U.S. with its costliest market being on the West Coast. Vancouver, British Columbia, tops the Canadian list where subject homes average $1,327,875. The most affordable studied market in Canada is Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island ($157,630). The price difference from Vancouver to Charlottetown is $1,170,245.

The most expensive studied international markets included (prices converted to U.S. dollars as of Sept. 7, 2007): Dublin, Ireland ($2.13 million); Milan, Italy ($1.91 million); Rome, Italy ($1.79 million) and Paris, France ($1.67 million). The most affordable international market tracked is Bogotá, Colombia, at $140,100.

Methodology – 2007 Coldwell Banker® Home Price Comparison Index:
Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC conducts its Home Price Comparison Index study by compiling survey data from Coldwell Banker offices throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and a sampling of other countries where the Coldwell Banker system has a market presence. Companies within the Coldwell Banker system submit data based on the average sales price of sold listings through July 2007 or a comparative market analysis of homes previously evaluated for the 2006 HPCI. The criteria for the HPCI subject home is: single-family dwelling, 2,200 square feet (approximately)2, four bedrooms, two and one-half baths, family room (or equivalent) and two-car garage in neighborhoods/zip codes within a market that is typical for corporate middle-management transferees.

For more information, visit www.coldwellbanker.com

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