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The Wall Street Journal and Realtor.com Release Summer 2022 Emerging Housing Markets Index Report

July 27 2022

Elkhart-Goshen, Ind., rises to No. 1 amid local economic recovery, declining unemployment and a highly competitive market with homebuyers seeking affordability and quality of life

NEW YORK and SANTA CLARA, Calif., July 26, 2022 -- The Wall Street Journal and Realtor.com today released the WSJ/Realtor.com Summer 2022 Emerging Housing Markets Index, which revealed Elkhart-Goshen, Ind., is now the No. 1 emerging market in America. The index analyzes key housing market data, as well as economic vitality and lifestyle metrics, to surface emerging housing markets that offer a high quality of life and are expected to see future home price appreciation.

The 2021 inaugural spring, summer, fall and 2022 winter and spring reports captured sweeping real estate market trends amid an uneasy economy, decreasing unemployment numbers and return-to-office efforts, more Americans traveling and a highly competitive market with homebuyers returning to larger cities.

Within a dynamically changing landscape, the summer 2022 index shines a light on a noticeable flight to affordability and higher quality of life. The top of the list is populated with housing markets displaying solid economic fundamentals, in-demand amenities and lifestyle options, along with a critical dose of affordable homes. The index also identifies markets that we believe are good areas in which to purchase a home for homeowners and investors alike, with expectations of price appreciation complementing vibrant and diverse communities.

The Top 20 Emerging Housing Markets for Summer 2022 are:

  1. Elkhart-Goshen, Ind.
  2. Burlington, N.C.
  3. Johnson City, Tenn.
  4. Fort Wayne, Ind.
  5. Billings, Mont.
  6. Raleigh, N.C.
  7. Rapid City, S.D.
  8. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.
  9. Topeka, Kan.
  10. Visalia-Porterville, Calif.
  11. Fort Collins, Colo.
  12. Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.
  13. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.
  14. Boulder, Colo.
  15. Huntsville, Ala.
  16. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.
  17. Eureka-Arcata-Fortuna, Calif.
  18. Jefferson City, Mo.
  19. Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, Ky.
  20. Colorado Springs, Colo.

Key Trends Among the Spring 2022 Top 20 Emerging Housing Markets

Affordability, Availability and Quality of Life Lead Summer Housing

Despite high market demand, the latest index reveals prospective homebuyers are either pursuing affordable housing or high quality of life in areas where options are more abundant. Twelve of the markets had a median home listing price near or below the national median during the second quarter of 2022, led by Topeka, Kan. and Jefferson City, Mo., with median listing prices just over $200,000. The summer 2022 index shows young professionals and growing families are looking for better work-life balance, along with a lower cost of living. To find that, they are looking in areas with more homes for sale. On average, across the top 20 markets in our index, active listing counts were up by 33.2% year-over-year and the number of newly-listed homes was up by 11.1%, compared to the national active listing growth rate of 4.9% and new listing growth rate of 4.0%.

Growing Local Economies Boost Buying Power

As we saw in the spring 2022 report, the summer index’s top-ranked housing markets have diversified economies and low unemployment, a prerequisite for a healthy housing market—16 out of the top 20 metros boast unemployment rates at or below the national 3.6% average. The top metros offer a wide range of job opportunities, higher wages and shorter work commutes at a time when the cost of gasoline reached new highs. Despite surging inflation, consumers also maintained an active pace of retail and travel spending, thanks to slightly higher than average wages.

Active and Outdoor Lifestyles are the New Benefit

Metros like Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C., Fort Collins, Colo. and Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, Ky., offer access to outdoors amenities but are still within driving distance from larger cities. Despite a slightly lower vacation profile than the spring index, the summer index’s top 20 markets offer an active outdoor lifestyle. Whether it’s access to mountains in North Carolina, Tennessee, Colorado or Montana, or beach destinations like California or Florida, top emerging markets provide residents with easy access to the outdoors.

Mid-sized Cities Lead the Emerging Pack

The summer index continues to highlight mid-sized cities. Amid rising costs of living and relatively stagnant wages across industries, the index indicates a move toward middle-class jobs in mid-size Midwestern markets. The top 20 metros averaged a population of 402,000 people. Nine out of the top 20 cities have populations below the 250,000 threshold, including this quarter’s leading metro, Elkhart-Goshen, Ind.

City Spotlight: Elkhart-Goshen, Ind.

The index’s top emerging housing market is Elkhart-Goshen, Ind. Industry manufacturers including Jayco, Keystone and Conn-Selmer—in addition to regional healthcare and local service providers—are based in Elkhart-Goshen, contributing to one of the lowest unemployment rates among index metros (1.6%).

Who’s In and Who’s Out

Twelve of the summer 2022 index top markets have appeared in previous index rankings, most notably Elkhart-Goshen, Ind., and all of the top nine were ranked in the spring 2022 index. Among the repeat markets are coastal vacation destinations like North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla. and Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.

Eight markets fell off the spring 2022 list but remained in the top 50 metros. Spring 2022’s top-ranked Santa Rosa, Calif. and Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla. dropped out of the top 20, falling to spots 105 and 69 respectively. With the exception of Columbia, Mo. and Yuma, Ariz., the markets that fell off the top 20 tend to be more expensive vacation destinations.

Methodology

The ranking evaluates the 300 most populous core-based statistical areas, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, and defined by March 2020 delineation standards for eight indicators across two broad categories: real estate market (50%) and economic health and quality of life (50%). Each market is ranked on a scale of 0 to 100 according to the category indicators, and the overall index is based on the weighted sum of these rankings. The real estate market category indicators are: real estate demand (16.6%), based on average unique viewers per property; real estate supply (16.6%), based on median days on market for real estate listings, median listing price trend (16.6%). The economic and quality of life category indicators are: unemployment (6.25%); wages (6.251%); regional price parities (6.25%); the share of foreign born (6.25%); small businesses (6.25%); amenities (6.25%), measured as per capita "everyday splurge" stores in an area; commute (6.25%); and estimated effective real estate taxes (6.25%).

Note: The Summer 2022 index is using a 12-month average for the real estate market indicators.

About The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal is a global news organization that provides leading news, information, commentary and analysis. The Wall Street Journal engages readers across print, digital, mobile, social, podcast and video. Building on its heritage as the preeminent source of global business and financial news, the Journal includes coverage of U.S. & world news, politics, arts, culture, lifestyle, sports, and health. It holds 38 Pulitzer Prizes for outstanding journalism. The Wall Street Journal is published by Dow Jones, a division of News Corp (Nasdaq: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV).

About Realtor.com®

Realtor.com® makes buying, selling, renting and living in homes easier and more rewarding for everyone. Realtor.com® pioneered the world of digital real estate more than 25 years ago, and today through its website and mobile apps offers a marketplace where people can learn about their options, trust in the transparency of information provided to them, and get services and resources that are personalized to their needs. Using proprietary data science and machine learning technology, Realtor.com® pairs buyers and sellers with local agents in their market, helping take the guesswork out of buying and selling a home. For professionals, Realtor.com® is a trusted provider of consumer connections and branding solutions that help them succeed in today’s on-demand world. Realtor.com® is operated by News Corp [Nasdaq: NWS, NWSA] [ASX: NWS, NWSLV] subsidiary Move, Inc. For more information, visit Realtor.com.