Top Turnaround Towns


Prices are changing quickly in markets you wouldn’t expect as the dynamics of supply and demand, sparked by investors, play out.  Here are some of the top  turnaround towns based on remarkable data made available to the public for the first time last year., the huge homes-for-sale site, contains anywhere from 2 to 5 million listings at any given time, depending on the state of the real estate industry and the time of year.  Over the past year, Move, Inc. the company that operates, has been organizing and analyzing data from, and the results have been fascinating.  As a consultant, I’ve been involved in the project and have had a birds-eye view of its progress and findings.’s data, derived from its listings, has several pluses.  The most important is its freshness.  Most of the site’s listings are refreshed directly from MLSs every 15 minutes and you can get transactional data like inventories and list prices virtually in real time.  Unlike most real estate data reports,’s data is not a survey of a representative but limited sample.  Its reports are based on every listing in every market in the nation from more than 900 MLSs.’s prices are list or “ask” prices, which differ from contract prices (pending sales) and sale prices and reflect median prices of what sellers are asking.   Finally, its time in inventory is an ideal measure of the actual lifespan of all listings in market.

Late last spring we started to notice that several markets that have been ravaged by foreclosures and have lost 40 percent or more of the pre-bust equity were acting strangely.  First inventories shrank as sellers waited for prices to improve and the flow of foreclosures turned into a trickle as lenders slowed processing in the wake of the Robosigning scandal.  Then time in inventory fell like a stone, indicating that demand was picking up as investors sniffed out bargains.   Finally median list prices rose as sellers responded to rising sale prices and owners/occupant buyers followed, their confidence in the market buoyed by the price turnaround, . Other economists have noted the same phenomenon (See Can Home Values and Foreclosures Live Happily Ever After? 

Our observation inspired a quarterly ranking of all 146 markets based on a formula of year-over-year median list price appreciation, declining time in inventory, declining inventory, unemployment rates, and search activity.  The top markets were dubbed the Top Ten Turnaround Towns. 

Here is the latest list, based on fourth quarter data.

The list of top ten turnaround towns begins with three of the nation’s top foreclosure markets, Miami, Phoenix and Orlando, each of which achieved significant appreciation of median listing prices.  With a 28.57 percent rise in media listing price this year, Miami has held first place all year in the ranking. Phoenix rose from fourth to second on the strength of a 15.58 percent increase in median list price and Orlando, where list prices rose 8.22 percent, fell from second to third place in the fourth quarter.

Two West Coast Florida markets shifted slightly but retained their positions in the middle of the top ten.  Fort Myers-Cape Coral fell from third to fourth in the fourth quarter, and Sarasota-Bradenton, FL rose from sixth to fifth.  Ranking sixth, Boise City, ID was the only Rocky Mountain market to make the list.  Four Florida markets completed the eight out of the top ten positions held by Florida markets: Naples, Fort Lauderdale, Lakeland-Winter Haven and Punta Gorda.  Naples made the list for the first time this quarter and Punta Gorda, returned to the elite group after making the first listing of Top Turnaround Towns for the first half of 2011. Two Midwestern markets fell from the top ten in the fourth quarter, Fort Wayne, IN and Ann Arbor, MI.  Fort Wayne ended the year ranked thirty-seventh and Ann Arbor, twenty-second. Top Ten Turnaround Towns, Fourth Quarter 2011




Median Price Appreciation


Median Age of Inventory

Year-over-year Inventory

Search Rank




  1.   Miami, FL






  1.   Phoenix-Mesa, AZ






  1.   Orlando, FL






  1.   Fort Myers-Cape Coral, FL






  1.   Sarasota-Bradenton, FL






  1.   Boise City, ID






  1.   Naples, FL






  1.   Fort Lauderdale, FL






  1.   Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL






  1.   Punta Gorda, FL






All data except the unemployment figures are from the Fourth Quarter 2011 Report from’s combined single family and condo database.  The unemployment data are August data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

About Author

Steve Cook is the editor of Real Estate Economy Watch and writes for a several leading outlets in addition to BiggerPockets, including Equifax and Total Mortgage. He also provides communications consulting services to leading real estate companies. Previously he was vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Realtors.


  1. I am actually surprised to see Fort Lauderdale so low on that list. Miami and Fort Lauderdale have been some of the hardest hit areas and as a realtor in both areas I think the numbers may be a little off. Either way it was a sign we were moving in the right direction. Now what do we do?

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