7/15/2008 - Asheville's Real Estate Makes Top Ten Yet Again
Apparently, there's just something about North Carolina. For the second year in a row, America's best city in which to live lies within its borders, according to Relocate-America.com's annual list.
This year, Charlotte is in the top spot, the site announced late last week. Last year's winner was Asheville, which slipped to No. 7 on this year's list.
"North Carolina is very active on our radar," said Steve Nickerson, president and CEO of HomeRoute. "It continues to get a flood of interest from all over."
HomeRoute is the real-estate firm that operates Relocate-America.com, a source of community information and real-estate resources for people who are relocating. Each year, the site ranks the top 100 places to live in the country.
Areas need to be nominated on the site in order to be eligible for the list; more than 2,000 were nominated this year, Nickerson said. Special efforts are made to prevent spamming campaigns from influencing the results, he added.
But the site's editorial team also takes into account an area's growth, its educational and employment opportunities, crime rates and housing options before granting it a spot in the top 100. Environmental highlights also play a role, with a city gaining points for good air and water quality or the strength of its recycling efforts, Nickerson said.
Home-price appreciation does get some consideration; however, it's only one piece of the analysis, Nickerson said explaining why some struggling real-estate markets in California and Florida, for example, still made the top 100. Areas that offer a comfortable climate and economic opportunity tend to be the most sought-after communities on the site, he said.
Charlotte's diversity of housing options and home affordability were two of the reasons users nominated the city, Nickerson said. The city's strong economy, boosted largely by the banking industry, was another selling point.
Second on this year's list was San Antonio, which people praised for its cost of living, recreational opportunities and diversity, he said. Chattanooga, Tenn., came in third place, noted for its vibrant downtown and affordable home prices in the nominations.
Below are the top 10 cities on Relocate-America.com's 2008 list:
- Charlotte, N.C.
- San Antonio
- Chattanooga, Tenn.
- Greenville, S.C.
- Tulsa, Okla.
- Stevens Point, Wis.
- Asheville, N.C.
- Albuquerque, N.M.
- Huntsville, Ala.
Read the full list at Relocate-America.com.
The firm also plans to release a coffee-table book on the top 100 soon, Nickerson said. Proceeds will benefit American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity, he added.
The view from the top
Certainly, being ranked as the top city to live in has its benefits, mainly as a marketing tool for the area, said Tony Crumbley, vice president of research for the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. An e-mail blast sent news of this list to thousands of residents, and the chamber actively keeps track of where Charlotte falls in many of the lists that are published.
"They are important," Crumbley said of the good rankings the city receives. But he also knows that these rankings come and go and that they're somewhat subjective; the city's appeal can change from one day to the next, depending on who is writing the list.
There weren't any significant changes in Charlotte during the past year that would account for boosting the city to the top of this particular list, he said. But the city definitely gets recognized a lot more today than it did 25 years ago, he added.
Bank of America and Wachovia have their headquarters in Charlotte, and it's also a hub for US Airways all of which seem to have increased the visibility of the city outside its boundaries, Crumbley said. The addition of professional sports teams since the 1980s has also helped.
In recent years, Charlotte has been successful in attracting young, educated workers to relocate there, he said. Asheville, on the other hand, has become a popular choice with retirees, he added.
But cities can easily make it to the top of one list and rank poorly on another, he said. Case in point: One recent Forbes.com list ranked Charlotte as one of the country's most miserable cities, a ranking, not surprisingly, that Crumbley and others disagree with.
Forbes also ranked it as one of the best places to invest in foreclosures, in part because the real-estate market there is relatively stable.
"If they're good, you use them. If they're bad, I won't tell you you should ignore them you look at them," he said of the lists o n which Charlotte appears. But negative rankings aren't likely to end up getting used as a marketing piece for the city.