Best and Worst States to Sell a Home in 2017

Nancy Mann Jackson

The housing market across the country is improving. In the United States, the average home price increased 8 percent over the past year to around $280,000 and home values are expected to continue to rise. Some markets, however, are hotter than others. If you want to sell your home this year, your location may determine your success. Here’s a look at the five best states and the five worst states for selling a home, based on three criteria:

  • Current home prices. The prices for homes in your state can impact the price you set for your home.
  • Employment figures. When there are more people employed, there are more potential buyers, as steady income is required to obtain a mortgage loan for a home.
  • The percentage of people moving out of versus into the state. These figures may reflect a decrease or an increase in the number of potential new buyers for your home.

Of course, a house can sell in any market—but it may sell faster and for a higher price in the top markets.

Hot Markets

5. New Jersey

  • Median Home Sale Price: $279,900
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.2%
  • Outbound Moves: 63.2%
  • Inbound Moves: 36.8%

With its quaint suburban towns and big-city proximity, Jersey attracts plenty of Manhattanites who are weary of the bustling city and its sky-high real estate prices. Although the Garden State does demand high prices for its real estate, they’re not Manhattan-high. The median home sale price is $279,900. More people are moving out of than into New Jersey (63.2% percent outbound compared to 36.8% percent inbound), which makes for a lot of competition among home sellers. Employment figures, however, are solid, with just 4.2 percent unemployment. This lands Jersey among the country’s hottest real estate markets.

4. Massachusetts

  • Median Home Sale Price: $326,000
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.6%
  • Outbound Moves: 54.4%
  • Inbound Moves: 45.6%

Scholars, Super Bowl champions, and plenty of lobsters and oysters call Massachusetts home, so it’s no wonder others want to move there. Anchored by popular Boston suburbs such as Cambridge, Newton and Brookline, the Massachusetts real estate market has recovered from the crash of the last decade. Today, the state’s median home sale price is $326,000, one of the highest in the U.S. And with a low unemployment rate of just 3.6 percent, the market promises to remain strong. The state ranks number four on our list because more than 54 percent of Massachusetts’s moving traffic is outbound.

3. Maryland

  • Median Home Sale Price: $270,000
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
  • Outbound Moves: 52.9%
  • Inbound Moves: 47.1%

With a median home sale price of $270,000, homes in Maryland are a hot commodity. The state’s unemployment rate is just 4.3 percent, so tenured residents and newcomers alike are likely to be employed and able to purchase your Maryland home. Led by cities such as Baltimore and Hagerstown, as well as the suburbs surrounding the District of Columbia, Maryland has a strong and growing economy. Federal government employment provides recession-resistant jobs for many of Maryland’s residents, and the state is also a leader in information technology, telecommunications, and aerospace and defense.

2. California

  • Median Home Sale Price: $433,000
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.9%
  • Outbound Moves: 50.5%
  • Inbound Moves: 49.5%

It’s not surprising that people might want to move to California, given the call of the sun and surf and the relaxed vibe. The median sale price for homes in California is $433,000, significantly greater than most of the country. But although home prices in the Golden State are among the highest in the country, new residents continue to flock to the state. Almost half the residential moves in California are inbound, and many of those new residents will be looking for a house to buy.

1. Colorado

  • Median Home Sale Price: $310,000
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.6%
  • Outbound Moves: 46.8%
  • Inbound Moves: 53.2%

A thriving economy and plenty of jobs, along with opportunities to ski, hike and bike the Rocky Mountains, are tempting an increasing number of people to move to this western state. If you have a home to sell in Colorado, you may be in a good spot.

Housing prices are surging across the state. The median sale price for homes in Colorado is high at $310,000 and the unemployment rate is low at 2.6 percent. Plus, more than half of Colorado’s residential moves are inbound, which increases the pool of potential buyers. Furthermore, Denver, Colorado Springs, and Boulder are among the hottest real estate markets in Colorado and the nation as a whole.

Cold Markets

5. Michigan

  • Median Home Sale Price: $142,000
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.1%
  • Outbound Moves: 51.8%
  • Inbound Moves: 48.2%

Decades of economic decline, spurred by setbacks in the automotive industry, have taken a toll on Michigan’s real estate market. Although the state has had some positive economic growth in recent years, the median home sales price remains low at $142,000. Unemployment hovers around 5 percent and almost 52 percent of moves are outbound.

4. Kentucky

  • Median Home Sale Price: $152,500
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.0%
  • Outbound Moves: 58.4%
  • Inbound Moves: 41.6%

Although economists at the University of Kentucky are forecasting healthy growth in the state for the coming year, house prices remain low. Kentucky’s median home sale price of $152,500 makes it attractive to buyers, but unfavorable to sellers. The unemployment rate is at 5 percent, and more than 58 percent of residential moves are outbound, so fewer new residents are arriving to potentially purchase your Kentucky home.

3. Oklahoma

  • Median Home Sale Price: $130,000
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
  • Outbound Moves: 51.0%
  • Inbound Moves: 49.0%

deep downturn in the oil and natural gas industry has led to widespread job loss and the bankruptcy of several Oklahoma companies, both of which have had impacts on the state’s housing market. If you have a home to sell in Oklahoma, you may have to settle for a lower sales price than you had hoped for. The median in the state is just $130,000. Oklahoma has an unemployment rate of over 4 percent, which may help explain why nearly 51 percent of residential moves are outbound.

2. Ohio

  • Median Home Sale Price: $132,900
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.1%
  • Outbound Moves: 56.7%
  • Inbound Moves: 43.3%

Like other states across the Rust Belt, Ohio’s economy has deteriorated in recent years with the decline of manufacturing jobs and the steel and coal industries. Currently, the median sale price of an Ohio home is $132,900. Unemployment is about 5 percent, and almost 57 percent of relocations are outbound rather than inbound. For those reasons, selling a home in Ohio may take longer and yield a lower return.

1. West Virginia

  • Median Home Sale Price: $130,000
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.9%
  • Outbound Moves: 57.4%
  • Inbound Moves: 42.6%

The decline of the coal industry has caused the state’s economy to suffer in recent years, which may make it more challenging to sell a house in West Virginia. Currently, the median home sale price is among the lowest in the United States at $130,000. Although this benefits buyers, with unemployment nearing 5 percent and more than 57 percent of residential moves being outbound, there are fewer and fewer qualified buyers looking for a home.

Whether your home is located in a hot or a cold market will not matter if you truly need to sell it. Although you can sell a home in any state, understanding the dynamics of the market can help you price your home appropriately and set realistic expectations for how long it may take to find a buyer.

READ MORE: Removing ‘You’ From Your Home — and Selling It Fast

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