Everyone's Moving to Waco?

Everyone's moving to.......Hottest real estate market in U.S. is surprising Bible-toting Texas town

Hottest U.S. real estate market is surprising Bible-toting Texas town

Waco & The Heart of Texas September 2014 Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame in Waco, the hottest real estate market in the U.S., according to new report. Photo by Pi3.124/Wikipedia

As the spring homebuying season approaches, experts are saying Waco is slated to have the hottest market in the country, followed by Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington. In surprising news, Houston and Austin-Round Rock don't appear in the top 20. 

Analysts at Realtor.com determined the top 20 housing markets by examining the median age of housing inventory in February as well as traffic on the site. Realtor.com’s chief economist Jonathan Smoke says based on this data, these two Texas markets are primed to lead the pack.

Active Waco listings on Realtor.com are viewed, on average, 335 times — the highest in the country. Dallas comes in second, at 219 pageviews per active listing. To put that in perspective, the national average is 73 pageviews per active listing. No other Texas market made the top 20. 

According to the most recent U.S. Census figures, Waco, the home of Baylor University, has a population of just over 129,000. The metro area totals just under 260,000 and is rapidly growing.

The median age of housing inventory in Dallas-Fort Worth is 62 days. That’s the best in Texas — and 41 days shorter than the national average of 103. Although Waco doesn’t appear in the top 20 on that list, it earns the title as hottest projected market because of online activity.

Smoke says both metrics indicate that buyers are gearing up to hit a market that sellers are taking advantage of. “It’s a good measure that supply is getting tighter when you see that the age is getting lower, then demand is increasing faster than supply,” he says. “It’s a two-edged sword. It’s great if you’re an existing homeowner or seller, but it’s what’s behind prices accelerating and declines in affordability.”

The supply issue is affected by an inventory that shrank 30 percent between January 2014 and January 2015, as there were 16,000 homes available for sale in the area at the beginning of 2015. “It is tight,” Smoke says. “It’s an issue broadly across the U.S.”

Smoke says that there is relief for buyers on the horizon, because February’s inventory is expected to be up from January when the full numbers come in later this month.

“Typically you see an inventory increase this time of year,” he says. “Warmer markets get prepared for the spring selling season. There’ll be a large number of listings in March; the market is reacting, and inventory is increasing."

Here is the complete list of Realtor.com’s 20 hottest markets right now:

  1. Waco, Texas
  2. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
  3. Santa Rosa, California
  4. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado
  5. Vallejo-Fairfield, California
  6. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  7. Fort Wayne, Indiana
  8. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California
  9. Charleston, West Virginia
  10. San Luis Obispo et al, California
  11. Columbus, Ohio
  12. Boulder, Colorado
  13. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan
  14. Hartford-West Hartford et al, Connecticut
  15. Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire
  16. San Francisco-Oakland et al, California
  17. San Diego-Carlsbad, California
  18. Charleston-North Charleston, South Carolina
  19. Toledo, Ohio
  20. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Maine/New Hampshire

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CultureMap editor-in-chief Clifford Pugh contributed to this article.