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Old October 7th, 2005, 04:07 AM   #1
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Housing Markets

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Attention, residents of La Jolla, California -- you can sell your homes and buy 14 identical ones in Killeen, Texas, and still have more than $36,000 left in your pocket.

The latest annual Coldwell Banker Home Price Comparison Index, which surveys prices of similar homes in 324 real-estate markets, reveals that a 2,200 square foot, four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath, two-car garage home in Killeen costs just $131,328.

In La Jolla, a similar home goes for $1,875,000, more than 14 times as much. La Jolla was the most expensive market surveyed.

The findings underscore the oldest real-estate chestnut in the books: The three most important factors in home buying are location, location, and location.

On the one hand you have La Jolla, perched on the Pacific in a perfect, mild climate, with cultural amenities and abundant recreational opportunities a short drive away.

On the other you have Killeen, founded on prairie land in the middle of Texas midway between Dallas and San Antonio, a young, quick-moving town that has grown up around Fort Hood, the largest army base in the country.

Ever upward
Coastal locations command big premiums over inland areas. The nine top markets on the Coldwell Banker index are on or near the coast in California and the 10th is Greenwich Connecticut, a suburb of New York City that nestles against the Long Island Sound.

"People want to live where it's warm, and where it's beautiful, preferably with a views of the ocean," said Jim Gillespie, CEO of Coldwell Banker, which has been conducting its comparison survey for 15 years.

In California, Gillespie reports, the supply and demand equation has fallen out of balance. The state will add 250,000 households this year, but is forecast to build only 210,000 new homes. That could keep home prices high.

Gillespie that in 52 percent of the markets surveyed, the average price was under $300,000. Most of these markets are off the coasts and all 10 of the most affordable cities are far from the sea.

Of the least-expensive markets, after Killeen comes Minot, North Dakota ($133,266) and Beckley, West Virginia ($137,875).

The index is also useful for figuring what a new place would cost should you be transferred to another part of the country. Coldwell Banker uses index data for its Web site tool that figures what a house is worth in other markets.

A home located in, say Bayside, New York, worth $800,000, would cost $981,000 in Santa Cruz ,California, $561,000 in Santa Fe, and $283,000 in Salem, Oregon
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