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With the economy still not back on its feet, it would seem that buying a home is the last thing on anyone’s mind. However, as current market trends indicate, now may be a better time than ever. With rents rising rapidly in coastal cities, in many cases it’s a lot cheaper to own than rent – and millennial homebuyers are taking notice.

According to Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson, though mortgage rates are expected to continue rising in the coming year, they won’t go very high above 4.3% on the 30-year fixed rate – which is still a historical low. While rising mortgage rates would technically make it more difficult for potential homebuyers to afford the homes they want, increasingly relaxed lending standards will make mortgage credit more widely available, thus making home buying more accessible to a wider range of people. In addition, there are more and more new homes being built, with an upward trend in home construction – up by 5% from 2015 to 2016 – that’s projected to keep growing.

With potential homebuyers moving away from cities such as New York and Los Angeles, where higher incomes can’t compete with the astronomical costs of housing, people are looking inward, seeking affordable housing in smaller cities across the country. Fortunately, there are several promising real estate markets to watch in 2017, boasting great jobs, communities, climates and more. The following six cities are an under-the-radar boon for prospective homebuyers.

  1.     Jacksonville, FL

Of the many cities in Florida appealing to prospective homebuyers, Jacksonville takes the cake for job opportunities in the state, boasting a 3.8% job growth rate in 2016, according to Forbes. Plus, there are more people moving in than moving out, a promising sign for economic stability. The employment opportunities, coupled with a solid education system, great weather, national parks and beach proximity make Jacksonville an unmissable opportunity.

  1.     Grand Rapids, MI

This Michigan town is charming, affordable, and a great opportunity for job seekers – job growth increased by 2.7% in the past year in all industries, making it possible for people of all backgrounds to find work. And with its vast offering of museums, zoos, parks and activity centers, it’s a wonderful place for kids – and for anyone looking to do a little exploring.

  1.     Colorado Springs, CO

 

For those who gravitate more toward hiking boots than flip flops, Colorado Springs is the place to call home. With a mild climate year round, it’s great for those looking to hike, ski and climb all in one place. The affordable housing options, high job growth rate, friendly people and relaxed pace of life make it a great place to put down roots, especially for those starting families.

  1.     Charleston, SC

Charleston, Charleston…it’s more than a song and dance! Charleston, South Carolina is consistently named a top city to live in by major publications. No wonder: it’s gorgeous, close to the beach, and boasts a rich history, with a thriving arts and culinary scene where everyone from music enthusiasts to foodies can find their niche. In addition, there are many job opportunities and consistently affordable housing options with very low interest rates, making it a city in which it’s cheaper to own than rent.

  1.     San Antonio, TX

Charming San Antonio is more than a tourist town: it’s one of the largest military cities in the U.S., making the cost of living one of the best. Home prices can’t be beat and the culture is diverse, making San Antonio a great option for people looking for the big-city feel in a well-rounded community.

  1.     Phoenix, AZ

With bright blue skies, warm weather and culture galore, Phoenix is the place to be. It’s one of the most diverse cities in the country, with a booming startup and business scene and very affordable homes. According to Monique Walker, an agent with RE/MAX Excalibur, “First-time homebuyers can find great inventory for homes in the $150,000 to $200,000 range. There’s a vast diversity in home prices, which is why Phoenix is appealing to so many people.” Plus, there’s no better place for Mexican food north of the border – an undeniable bonus.