How home prices in the Baltimore area stack up

Home prices in the Baltimore area fell about 4 percent last year, which is either bad or good, depending on your perspective.

If you take the position that it's bad, chin up -- dozens of metro areas had bigger drops.

But even more regions had smaller losses or actual increases.

That's according to a new report prepared for the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Council for the New American City, which looked at a variety of vital signs -- including home prices -- in metro areas across the country.

Ninety of the 363 metro areas saw the typical price for resold homes rise between the end of 2010 and the end of last year, with a few others holding steady. Almost 130 additional metro areas recorded drops that were smaller than the Baltimore area's.

Just over 140 regions, meanwhile, had even bigger price declines. Top of the loss list: Merced, Calif., down 20 percent (about $20,000).

The Baltimore area's loss worked out to a $9,000 drop over the year. None of the gaining areas had an increase that large, but several topped $5,000.

The biggest gainers on a percentage basis:

1. Danville, Va., up 9 percent to $94,000

2. Elmira, N.Y., up 7 percent to $106,000

3. Joplin, Mo., up 6.3 percent to $89,000

4. Bismarck, N.D., up 5.1 percent to $150,000

5. Casper, Wyo., up 4.7 percent to $155,000

What they all have in common: Their typical home price is lower than the Baltimore metro area's, which was $226,000 at the end of last year. But the areas with the biggest losses are also on the relatively low side, with typical prices under $125,000.

Here, for your amusement and edification, is a ranking of the 30 metro areas with the highest median prices:

Metro areaMedian home price% Honolulu, HI $589,279-1.4 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $477,890-3.4 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA $404,392-5.7 Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA $393,415-7.6 Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT $382,276-2.8 New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA $381,391-5.0 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA $361,243-5.1 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV $324,585-1.8 San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA $320,449-7.3 Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, CA $320,328-10.7 Boulder, CO $308,4270.6 Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH $304,316-3.2 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA $304,045-9.8 Barnstable Town, MA $290,426-4.1 San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA $277,660-9.4 Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA $274,233-10.4 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA $272,050-7.5 Napa, CA $271,059-10.8 Ocean City, NJ $262,474-8.6 Salinas, CA $248,043-12.9 Bellingham, WA $247,655-5.8 Santa Fe, NM $240,474-4.6 Trenton-Ewing, NJ $239,294-5.8 Anchorage, AK $238,8981.1 Corvallis, OR $237,342-1.5 Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY $234,859-5.7 Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA $226,847-4.2 Baltimore-Towson, MD $226,176-3.8 Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO $223,372-1.5 New Haven-Milford, CT $220,371-2.6

Reminder: The Baltimore metro area includes the five counties around Baltimore, so the typical price reflects a mix of urban, suburban and rural communities.

Baltimore is actually higher in the ranking if you compare it only to the most populous places. Some not-quite-so-large regions, like Honolulu, are also not at all cheap.

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