NEW YORK, Dec. 31, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Thanks to slow sales, record-low mortgage rates, and too many foreclosures, 2012 certainly hasn't been a "typical" year when it comes to real estate. While each market has quirks and trends that make it unique, these five are the most surprising -- and not all of the surprises are good!
If you think Hawaii's capital is just for luxurious vacations, think again! Honolulu has been a magnet for sales this year. However, lots of those sales have been driven by international buyers.
As you might expect from a sheer location standpoint, Asian buyers are the most common here. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprising, when you look at the weather reports!), Canadians have also made up a big chunk of Honolulu's buyers this year.
One benefit to having so many international buyers? There are very few foreclosures. After all, they aren't dealing with the weakened U.S. economy like native buyers are. In fact, the number of Honolulu foreclosures in the first half of 2012 was 49% lower than what it was in the first half of 2011.
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2. West Palm Beach
Despite its warm temperatures and sandy white beaches, West Palm Beach is one of those unpleasant surprises.
On the bright side, the number of home sales was up in July. However, the median sales price was $217,500 -- a 15% drop from the month before.
West Palm Beach also has a very high foreclosure rate. In July 2012, over 22,000 Palm Beach County homes received a foreclosure notice. That's 1 out of every 349 houses!
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3. Minneapolis/St. Paul
Home builders are excited in the Twin Cities -- as evidenced by the number of building permits that have been approved lately. In June, 766 permits were authorized. In July, that number skyrocketed to almost 1,100. That's a big contrast from March -- when the number was barely over 400!
Even better news for homeowners here? According to the FHFA Home Price Index, Minneapolis/St. Paul houses have climbed nearly 6% since the start of 2012.
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It may not be as big as other cities in the Lonestar State, but Texas' capital city has got a great real estate market! For years, Austin has been a destination for new startups and a place for the "big guys" to expand (like Facebook). However, 2012 has been even better than expected.
In July, the median sales price was more than 4% higher than it was in July 2011. Plus, the amount of time it's taking homes to sell here is getting smaller and smaller.
As an added benefit, the "Average Joes" are having the easiest time selling homes here. According to the latest numbers, if your home is priced at less than $200,000, it will likely sell in less than three months.
The only downside? Rent prices here have skyrocketed. So, if you plan on calling Austin home, you'll get more bang for your buck if you buy.
For years, foreclosures have been a major problem all over Virginia. Since they've been hit so hard, Richmond real estate experts are happy to brag about recent gains -- like the fact that pending sales went up 20% in July and that the median asking price is up close to $210,000.
The only problem?
That price is what Richmond sellers were getting in the mid-1990's. It's nice to see that people are getting more excited about real estate in Richmond, but when you look at the numbers, their enthusiasm is a little surprising.