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At a glance
Best cities in America for prospective homebuyers, according to Movoto Real Estate:
1. Henderson, Nev.
2. Las Vegas
3. Greensboro, N.C.
4. El Paso, Texas
5. Lexington, Ky.
6. North Las Vegas, Nev.
7. Chesapeake, Va.
8. Pittsburgh
9. Fort Wayne
10. Charlotte, N.C.
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Fort Wayne ranked No. 9 for new home buyers by Monvoto Real Estate.

Fort Wayne a hotbed for homes

Online firm ranks city as nation's 9th best for buyers

Tami Dennon's client list stretches from coast to coast.

The Fort Wayne property manager and real estate agent with Mike Thomas Associates has fielded calls from investors in Washington, D.C. and Washington state. They call from Massachusetts and Michigan, Colorado and California.

They all want to buy property in Fort Wayne. Even so, Dennon doesn't know whether demand for local real estate is comparatively high right now.

"It's hard to track what everybody else's markets are doing compared to ours," she said.

Movoto Real Estate claims to have the answer.

The real estate brokerage founded by a Stanford University grad released on Monday its list of the Top 10 Best Cities for Home Buyers.

Fort Wayne landed at No. 9.

Movoto, which is licensed in more than 30 states, evaluated the 100 biggest U.S. cities on the following criteria:

•Total homes for sale per capita – the more, the better for homebuyers, who are looking for homeowners motivated to make deals

•Median days on the market – the more, the better for homebuyers because sellers might be getting desperate

•Median income to median home price ratio – the more the better, because this indicates affordability of homes

•Crime rate – the lower the better because it keeps property values up, helping to attract a future buyer

•School quality – the higher the better, because it also keeps property values up

•Higher unemployment rate – the higher the better because fewer people who can afford to buy a home means less competition for those who can

Movoto officials acknowledge the last of its criteria is probably the most controversial.

"Obviously, higher unemployment in the long run can affect resale value, but we foresee the unemployment rate in general decreasing over the next couple of years," the organization said in a statement.

Keep in mind, this is the same online organization that this year released lists of the Top 10 cities for movie lovers, hot sauce lovers, meat lovers, Big Ten football fans and NASCAR fans. It also has compiled lists of the 10 most sinful cities, most unhealthy cities and most redneck cities.

When it comes to home buyers, Nevada hit the jackpot with the greater Las Vegas area nabbing three spots in the Top 10.

Henderson, which ranked first, is less than 20 miles from Las Vegas, which ranked second. The area has lots of homes for sale, little crime and great schools, according to data Movoto relied on.

Fort Wayne placed fourth nationwide in affordability, which pushed it into the Top 10. The Summit City's other scores were mostly in the 30s and 40s out of the 100 most populated cities.

For crime, Fort Wayne ranked 33rd best despite an increase in homicides this year. Fort Wayne and Allen County officials so far this year have ruled that 35 deaths were homicides, which is five more than last year and a 15-year high.

Movoto didn't specify sources for its data or which years or months the numbers were generated.

When he heard that Fort Wayne is considered one of the Top 10 cities for home buyers, Paul Saalfield was caught off guard.

"You've got to be kidding me!" he said Monday afternoon.

But, on further reflection, the Century 21 Bradley Realty agent wasn't surprised.

Local homes are selling briskly this fall, he said. Any home that's been on the market for longer than 90 days is priced too high, he said.

Buyers have become savvy, asking quickly how long a house has been listed. They get excited when it's a short period, thinking they might have discovered a deal.

"I've never seen so much excitement in buyers," he said.

That excitement appears to be contagious.

Sales of existing homes in the region increased by almost 2 percent in August, compared with the same month of 2012, according to the Upstate Alliance of Realtors. The organization tracks sales in Allen, Adams, DeKalb, Huntington, Noble, Wells and Whitley counties.

Last year was Saalfield's best in his six years as a real estate agent. He expects to generate more sales this year.

"There's always some reason for people to buy and sell," he said, citing transfers, promotions and divorce.

And each of those sales, he said, triggers three or four more.

sslater@jg.net

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