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The 10 Best Cities for Home Sellers

If you own a home in one of these cities, it’s a great time to be a seller. If you’re eyeing a move there, prepare for a challenge.

Randy Nelson

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Last month, the Movoto Real Estate Blog turned its city-ranking skills to the question of which cities in America are best for home buyers. Now we’re back to cover the flip side of that topic and determine which cities are tops when it comes to those who’re actually looking to sell.

As with that ranking, we looked at the country’s 100 largest cities in terms of population and considered a variety of criteria in order to come up with our final ranking, including home inventory and median sale price. When all was said and done, Fremont, CA, ended as the best city in the nation for home sellers.

Fremont wasn’t the only city in California to make the top 10; in fact, five of the very best cities for home sellers are in the state. The full top 10 includes:

1. Fremont, CA
2. San Francisco, CA
3. San Jose, CA
4. Honolulu, HI
5. San Diego, CA
6. Plano, TX
7. Chula Vista, CA
8. Seattle, WA
9. Chandler, AZ
10. Gilbert, AZ

We’ll go deeper into why each of these cities made the top 10 in a moment, but first let’s explain a bit more about how we ranked the entire 100-city list.

How We Did It

Like we mentioned earlier, in order to produce this ranking we started with a list of the nation’s 100 largest cities in terms of population. We then surveyed each across a set of six criteria to tell us more about how good (or bad) the city is for home buyers. The criteria were:

Total Homes for Sale Per Capita
A housing market with fewer properties available for sale will be more competitive, allowing sellers to set higher asking prices and increasing the likelihood that buyers will be willing to pay more.

Median Days on Market
Having homes that are on the market for less time is generally an indication that there’s high demand for them, but it also means that buyers will be in a weaker position to negotiate the sale price.

Crime Rate
The less crime there is, the more appealing a particular city will be to buyers, making the price they’ll be willing to pay to live there higher.

School Quality
On the same token, cities with better schools will also command a premium among buyers.

Lower Unemployment Rate
Finally, in a city with a lower unemployment rate, sellers can expect there to be more people who are actually capable of buying a home—getting approved for financing, potentially spending more, etc.

Each city was ranked from one to 100 in each of these criteria, then these scores were averaged to produce a final score for that location; the lower this score, the better. In general, the top 10 all had relatively low crime and good schools.

Here’s how each of the top 10 cities in the ranking fared when we dug down into the numbers:

1. Fremont, CA

The 10 Best Cities for Home Sellers

Source: Flickr user Don Debold

This modestly sized city of 216,916 located on the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay is home to the highest-earning home buyers in our top 10; they made a median household income of $98,513 a year. At the same time, sellers can anticipate a median listing price of $640,000, which is the third highest of all the cities we surveyed after San Francisco and Irvine.

Fremont is tied with Oakland, CA when it comes to fewest median days on market at 25 days. The city has the second-highest ratio of homes for sale to residents after San Francisco at one for every 689 residents.

2. San Francisco, CA

The 10 Best Cities for Home Sellers

Source: Wikipedia user Kurykh

To the northwest of Fremont sits San Francisco, the City by the Bay. This hilly metropolis has the highest median list price of any city in our top 100—let alone the top 10—at $799,000. Its residents earn a median household income of $72,947 and the unemployment rate is 5.4 percent.

The median days on market in San Francisco is twice that of Fremont at 50 days. There is one home for sale for every 869 people who call the city home, making it the most competitive housing market out of our top 10.

3. San Jose, CA

The 10 Best Cities for Home Sellers

Source: Wikipedia user Michael

One of the Bay Area’s three major metros, San Jose came in fourth in terms of median listing price and days on market at $609,000 and 43 days, respectively. Its residents make a median household income of $80,764 and the unemployment rate is 7.2 percent; the second-highest in the top 10 after Chula Vista.

San Jose is fourth out of the top 10 in terms of available home to resident ratio with one for sale for every 608 people.

4. Honolulu, HI

The 10 Best Cities for Home Sellers

Source: Wikipedia user ErgoSum88

The Hawaiian capital came in fourth overall in terms of unemployment at 4.2 percent, just slightly more than Seattle’s 4 percent rate. Its median list price is seventh overall at $528,000 and the residents earn a median household image of $93,539 annually.

Honolulu has one home for sale for every 292 residents and a median days on market of 64 days.

5. San Diego, CA

The 10 Best Cities for Home Sellers

Source: Flickr user Leandro Neumann Ciuffo

San Diego is the largest city in our top 10 at 1.3 million residents, which contributes to its low ratio of 1 home for sale for every 348 people. The median list price in San Diego is $469,000 which makes it ninth overall for that criterion.

Unemployment in San Diego is at 7 percent, placing it 45th out of 100 in terms of the cities we surveyed.

6. Plano, TX

The 10 Best Cities for Home Sellers

Source: City of Plano, TX

As it turns out, one of our best suburbs in America is also a top spot for home sellers. Plano has one home for sale for every 289 residents and a median days on market of 60. The median listing price there is 275,000—a far cry from California prices, but good for Texas.

The residents of Plano make a median household income of $82,901 annually, placing it 27th for that criterion, and the unemployment rate is 6.4 percent.

7. Chula Vista, CA

The 10 Best Cities for Home Sellers

Source: Flickr user Mark Sebastian

We head back to California and the San Diego area for seventh place Chula Vista. The median list price there is about $100,000 less than in San Diego proper at $370,000 and at one home on the market for every 378 residents, they’re just about even in that regard. Median days on market is 52, which is just one day longer than San Diego.

The unemployment rate is higher at 7.8 percent but the median household income is considerably lower at $65,526.

8. Seattle, WA

The 10 Best Cities for Home Sellers

Source: Wikipedia user Daniel Schwen

Still on the West Coast, but considerably less sunny, Seattle immediately stands out by having the lowest unemployment rate of any city we surveyed at 4 percent. The median household income there, however, is the lowest in our top 10 at $61,856.

As for the rest of the criteria, it performed admirably. Its median list price is $425,000 and days on market are 45. There’s one home for sale for every 227 residents of the city.

9. Chandler, AZ

The 10 Best Cities for Home Sellers

Source: Flickr user Dean Ouellette

As the first of two Arizona cities that round out our top 10, Chandler is superior in terms of median list price—at $284,900, it’s $14,800 better than No. 10. It’s $71,343 median household income is less, however, and its one home for sale for every 198 residents makes it not quite as competitive a market.

The median days on market in Chandler is 50 and the unemployment rate is 6.9 percent.

10. Gilbert, AZ

The 10 Best Cities for Home Sellers

Source: Wikipedia user Tony the Marine

Like we said, Chandler has Gilbert beat for median list price; $284,900 versus $270,100, respectively. Gilbert’s residents make more, though, at $80,090 median household income, and there are fewer homes for sale per resident—one for every 158.

In terms of median days on market and unemployment rate, Gilbert is tied with Chandler at 50 and 6.9 percent, respectively.

So You Want to Sell a House?

Bear in mind that the real estate market is constantly changing, so what might be a good selling environment today might not be in six months—or even one month. Still, this ranking should give you a good idea of where you stand if you’re looking to put your house on the market in the near future. Information is one of the most powerful tools you can have at your disposal as a seller or buyer.

(click to enlarge)

Best Cities for Home Sellers Ranking

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posted on: November 18, 2013
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