Home Buying and Selling

Best and Worst States to Sell a Home in 2020

Nancy Mann Jackson

In recent years, home sellers have had an advantage in many markets, with low inventory, increases in buyer demand, and surging home prices. But in 2020, the growth in U.S. housing prices is expected to flatten and mortgage rates are expected to rise. As a result, home sales are expected to drop during the year.

Home price growth will flatten, with a forecasted increase of just 0.8%, and mortgage rates will to rise by an estimated 3.88% by the end of the year, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

In 2020, sellers will have to deal with flattening prices and slowing activity, so they may need more patience—especially if their homes are at the upper end of buyers’ price ranges. However, sellers who adjust to local market conditions can expect to benefit from continuing demand, NAR data shows.

As always, some markets are hotter than others. If you’re preparing to sell a home this year, your location may help determine your success. Of course, a house can sell in any market. It may just sell faster, and for a higher price, in a top market.

Here’s a look at five of the best states, and five of the worst states, to sell a home in 2020, based on Realtor.com’s Market Hotness Index, which measures existing home supply and demand in 300 metro areas before ranking the markets by hotness.

The 5 Hottest Real Estate Markets

According to Realtor.com, a hotter market has limited supply, lots of demand, and faster selling times. Below are five of the hottest markets per the December 2019 ranking, listed in ascending order with number one being the hottest market:

5. North Carolina

Median home value: $203,661

Unemployment: 3.7%

Large employers such as Honeywell and Advance Auto Parts have recently announced they’re moving their headquarters to North Carolina, so it’s no surprise the state is a good place to sell a home. Large cities like Raleigh, Durham, and Charlotte continue to be hot areas for buying and selling homes, while smaller cities are growing in popularity. For instance, Burlington, located 35 miles from Durham, ranks second in the Market Hotness Index. The population of Alamance County, where Burlington is located, grew 7% between 2010 and 2017, and just keeps growing, according to The Times News.

4. California

Median home value: $556,815

Unemployment: 3.9%

Seven of the top 20 metro areas on the Market Hotness Index are located in California. They include Modesto, Vallejo-Fairfield, Fresno, San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Yuba City, Stockton-Lodi, and Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade. These hot areas reflect a national trend towards small cities and away from large, expensive metros. California’s population is still growing, although growth has slowed in recent years, according to The New York Times.

3. Ohio

Median home value: $150,835

Unemployment: 4.2%

While the rust belt state of Ohio was hit hard by the Great Recession, it has recovered in recent years, adding thousands of jobs. This is partially due to the state’s rich deposits of natural gas, which has brought tens of thousands of high-paying, middle-class jobs, as well as new steel and chemical plants. Cities like Columbus, Akron, Cleveland, and Cincinnati have regained vibrancy, attracting new residents and employers. The state’s economy is led by agriculture, automotive and steel industries, and healthcare. For instance, the Cleveland Clinic boosted the state’s economy by $17.8 billion in 2016, according to a local report.

2. Colorado

Median home value: $398,753

Unemployment: 2.5%

VF Corporation, the parent company of brands including The North Face and Smartwool, relocated its headquarters to Denver in 2019, bringing 400 current employees and plans to hire at least 600 more to the community. And that’s just one of many companies that have opened offices in the Denver Metro Area in recent years. With a booming economy and a wealth of outdoor activities, such as skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and climbing, Colorado is attractive to a wide range of people. That attraction is making it easier and easier to sell a home in the Centennial State.

1. Indiana

Median home value: $156,102

Unemployment: 3.2%

Known for its love of basketball, the Hoosier State is also home to the Indy 500 and the Indianapolis Colts, making it the perfect place for sports fans to call home. The city of Fort Wayne, which ranks #1 on the Market Hotness Index, has long been a major manufacturing center, and continues to offer jobs in manufacturing, healthcare, finance, and insurance. Once part of the Corn Belt, Indianapolis is now a sophisticated city offering a wide variety of opportunities for dining, culture, and jobs.

The 5 Coolest Real Estate Markets

Now that you’ve seen some of the hottest real estate markets in 2020, get to know five cooler ones. They are again listed here in ascending order, with number one being the least hot market:

5. Connecticut

Median home value: $255,746

Unemployment: 3.7%

As large employers like General Electric and United Technologies have left Connecticut in recent years, the housing market has suffered. Three Connecticut cities—Bridgeport, Stamford and Waterbury—appear on Go Banking Rates’ list of 50 coolest housing markets, which is based on Zillow data. One reason may be the high percentage of homeowners who owe more than market value on their homes. More than one in four homeowners in Bridgeport are underwater on their mortgages, and in Waterbury, the number is closer to 30%.

4. Georgia

Median home sale price: $201,713

Unemployment: 3.2%

Georgia’s economy is expected to take a hit in 2020, a University of Georgia economist told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Many of the state’s largest industries and employers have been affected by the ongoing global trade disputes. Economic challenges often negatively affect the housing market — and that’s exactly what’s happening in the Georgia market. Home prices in Columbus have dropped more than 10% in the past two years. Even in Atlanta, the state’s largest metro, home prices have dropped 3% in the past 12 months alone. Atlanta homes are staying on the market longer, as a result, and the city’s foreclosure rate is now higher than the national average.

3. Virginia

Median home sale price: $285,587

Unemployment: 2.6%

While Virginia’s economy is growing, it has done so at a slower rate than the rest of the country over the past several years, according to a state report. One reason may be the state’s heavy reliance on federal employment. A new Amazon office is anticipated in Northern Virginia, which should eventually bring 25,000 new jobs, but that announcement hasn’t transformed the statewide market yet. While cities in Northern Virginia are faring better, other parts of the state are lagging. For now, Portsmouth has the highest foreclosure rate of any city on the coolest markets list and, in Hampton and Norfolk, the percentages of underwater mortgages are more than double than the national percentage.

2. Illinois

Median home value: $202,609

Unemployment: 3.7%

With overwhelming pension debt and an uncertain political situation, the state of Illinois is on tenuous economic footing — and it’s showing up in the real-estate market. In Peoria, the average housing price dropped 15.9% over the past two years. Both Peoria and Portsmouth have some of the highest rates of foreclosure in the country. And the Chicago suburb of Aurora, the second largest city in the state, has a high percentage of homes with price cuts as well as higher-than-national-average rates of foreclosures and underwater mortgages.

1. Florida

Median home value: $246,107

Unemployment: 3.0%

The Florida economy has significantly slowed, a state economist told The Orlando Sentinel. The coastal state may also be suffering from the nationwide trend of people moving away from expensive coastal cities in favor of more affordable, inland locations. For instance, home prices in Miami Beach have fallen 5% in the past two years. And Riverview, a Tampa area suburb, has an extremely high rate of foreclosures. Other coastal towns, including Ocala and Fort Myers suburbs Lehigh Acres and Cape Coral, have seen flatter growth in home prices and higher rates of underwater mortgages and foreclosures.

Understanding the Dynamics of the Market has Benefits

If you really need to sell your home, it may not matter whether it’s located in a hot or cool market. However, understanding the dynamics of the market can help you price your home appropriately and set proper expectations for how long it may take to find a buyer. By gauging your market correctly, you may be able to sell quickly and start the process of moving to your next home sooner.

While this story identifies 10 states where individual real-estate markets are hotter or cooler, your experience as a seller may be different.

Looking to look up your specific zip code? Reference the bottom map in this link.

Please share with us and other readers in the comments below:

Have you recently sold your home, or are considering selling your home in 2020 and if so, how does being in a hotter or cooler market affect your strategy or timing?


32 Responses to "Best and Worst States to Sell a Home in 2020"
    • Gladys | March 17, 2019 at 3:33 pm

      Thank you for this helpful information. We are trying to sell our home in northwest Indiana!

      • Extra Mile Staff | March 18, 2019 at 12:17 pm

        Hi Gladys, thanks for reading and best of luck in this transitional period. If you would like some tips on preparing to move, we have a great article here!

    • Lois | March 23, 2019 at 12:11 am

      Surprised you did not mention Greenville SC ! With BMW and Michelin and the beautiful falls park the housing market is actually quite robust and growing.

      • Extra Mile Staff | March 25, 2019 at 12:27 pm

        Great suggestion Lois! Thanks for reading.

    • James KISER | March 29, 2019 at 6:24 pm

      Where does West Virginia tank particularly Raleigh County ?

      • Extra Mile Staff | April 1, 2019 at 7:28 pm

        Hello, James. I don’t see Raleigh County on the list. Moundsville, Follansbee, and Falling Waters are ranked in the top for West Virginia, whereas, Charleston, Ona, and Morgantown are on the cold end of the hotness index.

    • Joe | March 29, 2019 at 9:15 pm

      Surprised Tennessee isn’t on the list for good places! No income tax low property tax, no car tax, friendly people! Why aren’t they on the list !

      • Extra Mile Staff | April 1, 2019 at 7:15 pm

        Hi Joe. Our list is only the top 5 and lowest 5. I checked the list for you – you’ll be happy to know that there are several cities in Tennessee that made the hot list on the hotness index. They are as follows: Johnson City, Knoxville, Memphis, and Chattanooga.

    • Louise | May 8, 2019 at 12:27 am

      Where does Florida rank? Especially, the city of Dunedin, Fl?

      • Extra Mile Staff | May 8, 2019 at 6:16 pm

        Hi Louise, accroding to the index, the Clearwater area is rated number 1 within the county and number 752 overall in the country.

    • Richard Lewis | May 25, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      Would like to see where the rest of the states rank in buying or selling homes.

      • Extra Mile Staff | May 28, 2019 at 12:10 pm

        Hi Richard, you can explore this list where we referenced our information from. What does your state rank?

    • lorraine | May 25, 2019 at 2:50 pm

      What about my state?, Pennsylvania

    • Darralyn Green | May 25, 2019 at 3:02 pm

      What about central Florida’s rates

    • Betty Lou Field | May 25, 2019 at 3:07 pm

      I’m in Surprise Arizona and I got a very fair offer from a company where they buy property outright and even move you locally free. I’m not ready to give up my home yet but will use OfferPad unless my grown son wants to live in it.

    • Jennie | May 25, 2019 at 3:37 pm

      I sold my house in Chico, California—a metro area mentioned in the article—in April, 2018. Two days after my home went on the MLS, I received an offer of $10,000 over asking with no contingencies or requests for repairs (could have used a minor roof repair over the front porch). “Hot market” is an understatement in California, and especially in Chico right now. I have relocated to east Orlando, Florida and am confident the equity in my last home will help get me a very nice place here when I’m ready to buy. What’s the word on the east Orlando, Florida market?

      • Extra Mile Staff | May 28, 2019 at 12:19 pm

        Hi Jennie- check out the index here to learn more about East Orlando.

    • Jay Hicks | May 25, 2019 at 3:43 pm

      A bit simplistic to look at housing markets by state. Different locations within each state may vary. In Virginia, at least three locations within the state are selling well – Northern VA, Richmond, and the Blacksburg area. Those may be offset by very slow markets in other places such as Lynchburg and rural areas in the south-central areas of the state.

      Northern Virginia is also developing a housing shortage. Consider this comment just found from local news station WUSA9 –

      ” Thanks to Amazon HQ2, Arlington County housing market ‘smoking hot.’ The median price of what’s selling in Arlington County is 17.7 percent higher than it was a year ago, and homes in Arlington County now sell in an average of six days.”

      Nearby counties – Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William, as well as local independent cities – Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas, and Manassas Park have very active housing markets as well. Houses in our neighborhood – the ‘poor,’ working class east end of Loudoun County are selling in the 400k range.

    • Steve Forbin | May 25, 2019 at 3:45 pm

      You should also post the taxes and insurance cost as this is part of the cost of earnings and also the average middle class earnings of the community. Tax cost your bottom line and you do without later in life if you live beyond your income with little no savings for retirement. Many people are tax slaves to the system and the Standard of Living of many middle class declines as cost move up but earnings don’t move as fast. Sooner or later the labor unions will want to include cost of living and upping the amount as the wage and price spiral to higher and higher cost. No real winner on this. Teach your children well.

    • Kim | May 25, 2019 at 3:55 pm

      We live in Southern Maryland (Accokeek, Maryland)and wish to sell our home. I didn’t see the State of Maryland on the list

      • Extra Mile Staff | May 28, 2019 at 12:23 pm

        Hi Kim, Accokeek ranks 205 out of the state, and 28 out of your county. Out of 100, its right at a 50 mark for “hotness”.

    • adrienne Jacoby | May 25, 2019 at 4:21 pm

      The primary reason that Chico is listed as a hot market in California is directly due to the Camp Fire that dumped approximately 20 – 30,000 people into their population LITERALLY overnight. It’s a beautiful town with many desirable qualities, but the infrastructure is stretched to the breaking point at this time.

    • Patricia M Rowley | May 25, 2019 at 4:30 pm

      Where does Illinois rank as far as selling?

      • Extra Mile Staff | May 28, 2019 at 12:25 pm

        Hi Patricia, scroll to the bottom of this page and you can find a map. Choose Illinois and then find your zip code!

    • Pat Holguin | May 25, 2019 at 6:10 pm

      Would you care to cite New Mexico’s temp? That’s where I’d be selling.

      • Extra Mile Staff | May 28, 2019 at 12:28 pm

        Hi Pat, the area around Albuquerque and Carlsbad are the hottest sections of your state.

    • Anne | May 25, 2019 at 8:43 pm

      My house in Seattle sold within a week with 2 prospective bids—both over the asking price.

    • Linda Mahaney | May 26, 2019 at 1:53 am

      With regard to Hilton Head real estate…I was a Realtor in IL for 32 years and just moved here. The stats seem to be lower in communities where it is mandatory to join their country club. I don’t play golf and moved to Sea Pines where the cost of homes is higher but you do not have to join a country club when purchasing a home here. We also have wonderful amenities, beaches, bike paths, etc. There are however 3 golf courses here. If you wish to join you can but it is not mandatory. The other communities also seem to take longer to sell and the homes are less expensive…I assume due to the additional cost of club membership + monthly fees which may not be a desirable feature to a percentage of buyers. Just a personal analysis from a former Realtor who just braved the home buying experience!

    • Shawn | May 26, 2019 at 4:29 pm

      The California market has been hot for a while now and is over priced for the medium income. The bubble is bound to pop again sooner or later. Stockton, CA has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes. Your chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime is one in nineteen, per statistics.

    • Bob Orlosky | May 27, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      Nancy,

      I live in Virginia (22039). It is not a hot market, but one should have no trouble selling or buying a home in this zip code, especially if one exercises the advice you give prior to listing the market ratings. So I believe you should modify the VA rating to accommodate the sections of the state that are doing well versus those not doing so well. Zillow has raised its estimate of my home every month during 2019.

    • Shahzad Akhund | May 28, 2019 at 4:03 am

      I have seen the price surge and the time houses sell here in Staten Island, which is almost a suburb of New York City; yet there is no mention in your list.

    • Patricia Heathershaw | May 28, 2019 at 3:12 pm

      I live in Sun City, AZ , 85351. What is the 2019 prediction for this area?

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