Where Should Buyers Shop For Homes in 2016?

By Tali Wee

Buying a home is even harder than just a year ago, as fewer homes are available and buyers in many desirable markets are falling subject to bidding wars and incredibly steep buying competition. The best way to locate your dream home is to begin shopping in areas where buyers have the most negotiating power. When inventory is high, shoppers have more options to choose from and sellers are more eager to accept offers.

Researchers at Zillow narrowed down a list of the top 10 buyers’ markets by evaluating locations with the most price cuts and the longest average number of days for-sale homes sit on the market. If you’re thinking of buying a home soon, you’ll have the most luck in the following markets.

The Top 10 Markets for Home Buyers

  1. Philadelphia, PA
  2. Chicago, IL
  3. Baltimore, MD
  4. Hartford, CT
  5. New York/ Northern New Jersey
  6. Miami, FL
  7. Indianapolis, IN
  8. Jacksonville, FL
  9. Virginia Beach, VA
  10. Orlando, FL

Across the U.S., the median home value is $187,000, making a standard 20% down payment around $37,400. Although buyers these days can finance homes with less than 20 percent down, acquiring a mortgage is a major financial decision. You want to make sure you’re buying a home at a price you feel confident matches its value.

Homes in Philadelphia cost a bit less than the national rate, with a median value of $121,800. Plus, homes in Philly are expected to rise in value throughout the year, appreciating an additional 2.7% – slightly faster than the expected national lift of 2.4%.


Burlington Meadows

If you’re looking to buy in Chicago, values sit at $203,700 with an anticipated 2.8% appreciation by year’s end. Besides the obvious appeal of such a major city making the list, Chicago offers many small communities with new homes that may meet your shopping must-haves. Check out your new construction options in Sagebrook offering both townhomes ($185,990) and single family homes ($305,990) Lehigh Station ($249,990), Lakewood Prairie ($215,990) and Kearney Glen ($199,990).


Hickory Ridge

A little more than halfway down the list of ideal markets for buyers is Indianapolis. In seventh place, Indianapolis offers new construction communities such as, Mapleton at Wynne Farms ($195,990), Greenwood Station ($192,990) Cumberland Farms ($181,990) and Marlin Meadows ($176,990). Although these homes are priced above the state median home value of $116,000, the communities offer grand homes with accessible green spaces, clubhouses, and even schools. Plus, homes in Indiana are expected to appreciate another 2.8% within the year.


Fawn Lake

Virginia Beach can expect far less appreciation this year, just 0.7%, but home values already stand at $248,800 – more expensive than Philadelphia, Chicago, or Indiana properties. If you’re on the hunt for new constructions in the state of Virginia, check out townhomes at Overlook at Cascades ($539,990), the gated community of Fawn Lake ($371,990), or luxury urban residences at Majesty West ($1,189,000).


Summerlake Groves

Lastly, the city of Orlando squeaked in at the bottom of the list of top markets for home buyers. Home values ($150,700) are closest with properties in Philadelphia – much cheaper than in Virginia Beach. Additionally, Orlando homes should jump in value throughout the year by a huge 4.2%. If you’re shopping for new construction homes in Orlando, consider single-family homes in Econ Landing (216,990), Hickory Hammock featuring both single family homes ($287,990) and townhomes ($232,990) or Summerlake Groves featuring both single family homes ($266,990) and townhomes ($227,990)

Regardless of where you shop for homes, prepare beforehand by getting preapproved for a loan and finding a lender you trust. That way, when you find your dream property, you’re ready to buy without the added pressure of completing all the necessary paperwork in a few short days.

M/I Homes Volunteers with Alvis House for the Holidays

This year, the Alvis House was chosen by our corporate office at M/I Homes as the recipient of our holiday gift drive and holiday party. M/I Homes was able to work with the Family and Children’s Program to help create a wonderful holiday experience for the women and their families.  The Family and Children’s Program works to rebuild relationships which have been affected by a parent’s involvement in the criminal justice system.

M/I Homes and the Alvis House

In November, M/I Homes team members set out a Christmas tree in our lobby with stockings, gingerbread houses, ornaments and other fun decorations.  Each ornament contained a few gift ideas for one of the children in the Family and Children’s Program.  Members of our M/I Homes team were encouraged to pick out a child from the tree to bring a gift for.  Some departments went in on gifts together, while other employees and family members individually purchased gifts for a child.

Two weeks prior to our scheduled holiday party, M/I Homes attended one of the Family and Children’s Program Saturday sessions to help children in the program put together picture frames for their moms.  We also had each of the moms create stockings to give their children at the party.  It was a fun experience for all involved!

After collecting over 100 gifts for these families, members of our Employee Activity Committee wrapped each child’s gift, as well as compiled gifts of scarves, jewelry and lotion for the mom’s.   On Saturday, December 19th M/I Homes and the Alvis House hosted their holiday party, complete with a visit from Santa, a catered lunch, cookie decorating, craft making and family memories for years to come!  Each family had the opportunity to meet Santa, and take family photos to put into their picture frame for their moms to keep.  For some families this was the first family photo they had from a Christmas spent together.  The M/I Homes team attended this event, ensuring that each child received their presents from Santa, helped to serve food, decorate cookies and enjoyed interacting with each family. Jackie Haight, the Volunteer and Intern Manager for Alvis House said, “The food was good, Santa and the activities were great, and the generous abundance of gifts for the children and moms was amazing!  Kudos to your M/I Homes team for making this event so special for our families.”

“The families were so appreciative of this time to spend with their families.  You could see how much they appreciated a way to celebrate the holidays with their families! It was truly humbling to be able to be a part of such a memorable day for their families.  That’s what the holidays are all about!” said one of our M/I Homes employees, Emily Smith.

Thank you to the Alvis House for letting us be a part of your holiday cheer program.  Our M/I Homes team truly enjoyed every minute of it!


**The mission of Alvis House is to serve individuals and families by providing effective programs and services that foster personal responsibility and healthy lifestyles resulting in safer communities for all.

M/I Homes Volunteers with United Way

Members of the M/I Homes team in Columbus participated in the Columbus Volunteer Challenge on Thursday, September 10th with the United Way of Central Ohio. The Columbus Volunteer challenge has thousands of volunteers from all across Ohio focused on one thing: making a huge impact in our communities!

This year, the Alvis House, a reintegration program, was chosen as the work site for the challenge! Members of our team worked together to stain the fences on multiple homes, and paint the interior of one of their women’s facilities. Both of the sites were early 20th century, Victorian-style homes which really needed a facelift and we were happy to put our painting and staining skills to good use!

During lunch, the M/I Homes team was able to hear the story of one of the women staying in one of the Alvis House homes. Her story was truly moving and her experience with the Alvis House was very uplifting. Arlene Reitter, a staff member with Alvis House, was able to share with the team more about the organization and what the program does for our community. Their mission is to serve individuals and families by providing effective programs and services that foster personal responsibility and healthy lifestyles resulting in safer communities for all. The homes that were worked on are for women who have been part of the criminal justice system, and are looking for a fresh start. The M/I Homes team was told how grateful the Alvis House was for their service, and that freshly painted rooms show their clients that they are valued members of the community who deserve a second chance.

M/I Homes team members were happy to volunteer their time for their local community in Columbus. If you’re interested in learning more about Alvis House, visit their website today.

M/I Homes of Dallas / Fort Worth Joins Plano Chamber of Commerce

It’s official! M/I Homes of Dallas / Fort Worth has joined the Plano Chamber of Commerce, with the flagship community Creeks of Timber Brook in east Plano.  We were honored to have many distinguished community leaders and business owners join us at the official ribbon cutting ceremony held at the model on May 12.  As anticipated, the feedback was inspiring as visitors toured the model for the first time.  Common remarks echoed through the home touting how different M/I Homes looks compared to other models in North Texas, and how the space seems to expand around every corner.

We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Plano Chamber of Commerce as we continue to build out this exceptional community, with 4 new floor plans and new home sites being released.  We will also be joining the Chamber for their 25thannual Golf Tournament at Pecan Hollow Golf Course.

Contact us to learn more about our gorgeous Creeks of Timber Brook Community.

3 Cincinnati Suburbs for New Construction Homes

Opting for a new construction home has many benefits, not limited to customized interiors, new plumbing and electric, energy-efficiency and technological advancements. Another lesser obvious upside to choosing a new construction home is flexibility of location. Many new construction communities lie just outside of major cities across the U.S. – allowing for relaxation and privacy without comprising convenience.

In the Cincinnati area, M/I Homes builds and sells new construction homes in fourteen different neighborhoods, creating an array of options for homebuyers looking for a move-in ready or customized home-buying experiences. If you’re considering buying a home near Cincinnati, look at Hamilton, Deerfield and Mason, three northern Cincy suburbs great for homebuyers who prefer proximity to downtown without the stress of high-rise living.



Home to one of Miami University’s regional campuses, the city of Hamilton is part of the Cincinnati metropolitan area and encompasses over 60,000 residents. The new construction community of Rivercrest within Hamilton offers 132 acres of freshly-built residences. Rivercrest overlooks the Little Miami River, creating an environment so serene it’s hard to believe the Queen City is only 30 miles away. Prices for new construction properties in Rivercrest range from $335,995 to $473,674 with sizes large enough to accommodate big families – some over 5,400 square feet. Comparatively, buyers searching for homes in Hamilton, both new and previously owned, face a median list price of $159,900 with a median sale price of $135,925. Although the median list price for homes in Hamilton are less than new construction Rivercrest homes, home values in Hamilton (including Rivercrest) increased 4.2 percent in the last year. Rivercrest buyers can expect their home values to rise another 2.4 percent in 2015, congruent to the surrounding local market. With more money down, new construction buyers in Rivercrest are likely to face large returns – and a more satisfying, comfortable home in the meantime.

Deerfield Township

New construction homes in Roberts Park range from $402,990 to $627,032 and vary from around 2,500 to almost 6,000 square feet per single-family property. And, with the purchase of a new property in this community, you also are granted social member status at the Four Bridges Country Club, which includes gym, clubhouse, tennis courts, kiddie pools and golf course amenities. The median home value in Deerfield as a whole is $129,200, which represents a 5.2 percent increase in the past year. Zillow economists expect all Deerfield homes to rise in value another 2.7 percent in the coming year. Although new construction homes in Deerfield are more expensive than their counterparts in greater Hamilton, the local market is strong enough to provide substantial returns in the future. Families are especially drawn to Deerfield Township and Roberts Park due to it being located in the Mason City School District, one of Ohio’s best.


Mason was rated the 7th best place to live in the nation by Money Magazine, which could be why it’s the most expensive suburb on this list. Like Deerfield Township, Mason residents benefit from the Mason City School District. Generally, homes in Mason are valued at a median price of $228,500, representing a 2.5 percent increase since last year. Much like the other cities in the Cincinnati metro region, home values are expected to rise another 2.3 percent in 2015. The median list price is much higher than the median value, hovering around $330,000. Although prices in Mason seem out of reach, Alverta offers moderately-priced homes between $351,495 and $481,896. And, Alverta supplies residents with an 8-acre community park, ponds and gardens to enjoy the warm Cincy summers.

Although list prices, for the most part, are higher for new construction homes than the median prices of their respective locales, new construction offers many upsides. From customizing your home to perfectly fit your family to evading costly maintenance for dated plumbing and electric, new homes in Cincinnati are hard to beat.

** Jennifer Riner writes about rentals, home improvement and design for Zillow.


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