Realty Check

Coldwell Banker has issued a sorta study that proves what most of us have known for a long time: Dallas is just affordable enough to be attractive to the average homeowner, but also just expensive enough to drive you broke before you know it. Yesterday, the realtor released its Home Price Comparison Index, which compares the prices of "average" houses in nearly 400 markets--not all of them in the U.S., as Coldwell Banker apparently has an estimable presence in Warsaw and Dubai, who knew? And by average house, this is what Coldwell Banker means: "2,200 square foot single-family dwellings with four bedrooms, two and one-half baths, a family room (or equivalent) and a two-car garage." Thanks, Coldwell Banker, for making me feel below-average. I thought you were different.

Anyway, topping the national list is Beverly Hills, where a house like that goes for $1.8 million--assuming you can find a place that small in the Los Angeles neighborhood. But the Texas chart-topper is, of course, Dallas, where the average 2006 sales price for Coldwell's so-called "average" house was $288,278. That's more than twice the price of the cost of a house in Texas' most affordable city for a home-buyer. Hey, you wanna live in Killeen, it'll only cost ya $140,310 for that 2,200-square foot home. Only, right, you gotta live in Killeen.

Killeen's actually the second most affordable city for a home-buyer in the U.S., says the HPCI; the first is Minot, North Dakota, home to the North Dakota State Fair, the Norsk Hostfest ("North America's Largest Scandinavian Festival!") and "any number of rodeos and bull riding events," says Coldwell Banker. Texas actually has three cities on that low-low-low-price list: Coming in at No. 3 is Arlington, which is only a few bucks more expensive than Killeen at $140,975, while Fort Worth comes in at No. 9 ($151,250), between Billings, Montana, and Cadillac, Michigan. The average price of the "average" Texas house is $191,419. Keep in mind, it was just two weeks ago RealtyTrac, which maintains a database of all foreclosures in the country, issued its press release that said Texas reported 14,278 properties entering some stage of foreclosure--"the second most of any state and an increase of nearly 9 percent from the previous month." Here that is, for a little double-header reading this a.m. --Robert Wilonsky

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