By Stanley Bing
May 9, 2008

CNNMoney today features a very pretty gallery of homes now being offered in the top ten real estate marketing in the United States. These markets are:

  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Baton Rouge, LA
  • El Paso, TX
  • McAllen, TX
  • Rochester, NY
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Syracuse, NY
  • Buffalo, NY
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Scranton, PA

First of all, I think it’s nice to see that any real estate markets are growing in this climate. Beyond that, this list is slightly frustrating, because they are all united by one common factor: I can’t live there.

It’s not that I wouldn’t want to. I love the idea of buying a house for $109,000 in a town like Syracuse, NY, and watching it appreciate over time. It’s just that any business I’m involved in has nothing to do with Syracuse, and even if peripheral portions of it does, I have no reason to attend operations from that location. Same goes for Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s always been on my list of places to go, but in my entire career no phone call has ever transpired that ended with the words, “You’re going to have to go to Grand Rapids right away.”

I have been in Texas a couple of times, most memorably in Irving, Texas, when my company was pitching for the right to build a cable television system there. It was very flat and hot. I had a feeling that there was a lot more going on in that state than what I saw during my three days in Irving. So I look forward to going back some day. But I don’t believe there’s going to be any call for me to settle down either in McAllister or, for that matter, El Paso, which I hear is also a heck of a burg.

And Scranton? I had a boss once from Scranton. He was a terrific guy. In fact, I’ve known quite a few people who came from Scranton. I never knew anybody who actually stayed there, though. I’m sure that’s no fault of Scranton’s. It’s just that for the most part a lot of the action is taking place in cities that are not Scranton.

In the places my friends and I are forced to live and work, people pay $750,000 for a 600-square-foot broom closet and count themselves lucky, or $1.25 million for a two-bedroom cottage with one bathroom. And for some reason the fastest-growing real estate markets aren’t anywhere near any of those places, so much the worse for us.

So I guess we have a choice. We can quit and go live in a place that is growing. Or keep on paying through the nose for low-growth domiciles in cities whose real estate markets are in the doldrums, dreaming all the while of the investment home we may never possess in boom towns like Buffalo, Rochester or Baton Rouge.


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