Same 4-bedroom house - wildly different prices

The cost of a middle-management-type home varies significantly depending on where in the country you live. But there are some huge spreads within states, as well.

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By Les Christie, CNNMoney.com staff writer

10 least-affordable cities
Where a 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath, 2,200-square-foot house costs the most.
Rank City State Price
1 La Jolla Calif. $2,125,000
2 Beverly Hills Calif. $1,981,750
3 Greenwich Conn. $1,519,250
4 Palo Alto Calif. $1,489,726
5 Santa Monica Calif. $1,460,912
6 San Francisco Calif. $1,363,250
7 Boston Mass. $1,337,578
8 Newport Beach Calif. $1,315,505
9 Palos Verdes Calif. $1,237,041
10 San Mateo Calif. $1,090,000
Source:Coldwell Banker Home Price Comparison Index
10 most-affordable cities
Where a 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath, 2,200-square-foot house costs the least.
Rank City State Price
1 Grayling Mich. $112,675
2 Akron Ohio $121,885
3 Fayetteville N.C. $130,875
4 Canton Ohio $131,867
5 Detroit Mich. $132,000
6 Arlington Texas $138,775
7 Macon Ga. $139,007
8 Eau Claire Wis. $141,270
9 Port Charlotte Fla. $142,750
10 Wichita Kans. $144,625
Source:Coldwell Banker Home Price Comparison Index
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Imagine you're a mid-level executive living in Grayling, Mich., the "Canoe Capital of the World." You've received a job offer that pays twice as much in posh La Jolla, Calif., the seaside resort near San Diego.

It sounds like a no-brainer, right? Not only will you earn all that extra money, you'll be enjoying some of the best weather in the United States. You can boat year round.

What you may not have considered is how much it costs to buy the kind of home you've gotten used to in Michigan. As a matter of fact, you better plan on spending nearly 20 times as much, according to the 2009 Coldwell Banker Home Price Comparison Index.

This index, released Wednesday, is an "apples-to-apples" comparison of similar homes in so-called "move-up buyer" neighborhoods. It compares the prices charged for 2,200-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-and-one-half bath, single-family homes in more than 300 markets around the nation.

The overall U.S. average for such a house is $363,401, but in Grayling, it sells for just $112,675, the most affordable market in the nation.

La Jolla, on the other hand, is the most expensive; a comparable house there goes for a cool $2.125 million. That more than $2 million disparity is up from 2004, when the spread between the most expensive and most affordable towns was $1.5 million.

"La Jolla, loosely translated, means 'the jewel' in Spanish," said Rick Hoffman, a Coldwell Banker broker in San Diego. "It's always been a place everybody goes to. The weather is excellent. There's great shopping, restaurants and recreation. In non-rush-hour traffic you're only 15 minutes from downtown San Diego."

Grayling also has excellent recreational opportunities, many of which revolve around the Au Sable River, which runs through town. That makes the fishing and canoeing in this northern part of Michigan's Lower Peninsula splendid. Winter sports, like snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are also big.

But like most of Michigan, the economy here is slow. Much of the business is propped up by Camp Grayling, a nearby Army base. There's also the tourist trade -- lots of vacation homes in the area -- and timbering in the state forests, according to Laurie Jamison, a broker with Coldwell Banker Cornell Realty.

"If you had a $2 million home in Grayling, you'd be king of the mountain," she said. "I couldn't imagine seeing a house like that here." The most expensive home she sold recently was a big, lakefront property for about $600,000.

Big affordability improvement

La Jolla notwithstanding, housing affordability has improved dramatically, according to Jim Gillespie, Coldwell Banker's CEO.

"I am most intrigued with the affordability levels now seen across much of the nation," he said. "Thirty percent of the markets show this type of home to be below $200,000, illustrating the opportunity to take advantage of price declines, interest rate levels and increased selection of homes."

According to the report, in 84 of the U.S. markets Coldwell Banker covers, the sample home price averages under $200,000. At that price, the monthly mortgage costs should not exceed $1,200.

As for that house in Grayling -- factoring in 20% down and a 5.5%, 30-year fixed rate loan -- it would cost a mortgage borrower only about $512 a month.

Under those same terms, the monthly mortgage bill would come to nearly $10,000 in La Jolla. Not that you could get the same deal. The loan would have to be a jumbo mortgage, since it exceeds cap limits for loans issued through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That would add about a point to the interest rate and $1,000 to the monthly housing costs.

Some of the other very affordable towns include: Akron, Ohio, where this type of house costs $121,885; Fayetteville, N.C., $130,875; and Canton, Ohio, $131,867. The most affordable markets are sprinkled all over the Midwest, Southwest and South.

Most of the highest priced markets are in California. The Golden State accounts for eight of the top 10 towns. Beverly Hills is second at $1.982 million, followed by Greenwich, Conn., at $1.59 million. Boston is the other non-California town to crack the top 10; it was seventh at $1.34 million. That was one place behind San Francisco, the biggest city on the list.

Variations within states

Not only are there huge affordability differences around the nation, there are big spreads within the same states. While California has many of the most expensive cities, for example, it also has some very affordable ones.

In Lancaster, Calif., which lies just north of Los Angeles and is one of the nation's fastest growing cities, the sample home goes for $165,205 -- nearly $2 million less than La Jolla.

West Hartford, Conn., has these exec homes for $242,789, more than $1 million less than Greenwich. In Massachusetts, a home in the old mill town of Worcester costs $242,769, a million dollars less than in Boston, just 47 miles away.

The smallest spreads occur in the wide-open-space states, such as Oklahoma, where homes in the most expensive market, Oklahoma City ($164,250), cost less than $10,000 more than the most affordable one, Tulsa ($154,800).

In Idaho, Boise homes cost $215,432 compared with $204,518 in Coeur d'Alene. And homes in Florence, Ky., cost $212,720, compared to $188,017 in Lexington. To top of page

Coldwell Banker Home Price Comparison Index
Market State Avg. Price
ALASKA
Anchorage AK $ 339,311
Juneau AK $ 375,667
ALABAMA
Huntsville AL $ 267,314
Mobile AL $ 183,696
ARKANSAS
Fayetteville AR $ 216,125
Fort Smith AR $ 180,581
Little Rock AR $ 171,684
ARIZONA
Flagstaff AZ $ 385,057
Mesa AZ $ 206,967
Phoenix AZ $ 199,111
Scottsdale AZ $ 368,333
Tucson AZ $ 227,470
CALIFORNIA
Bakersfield CA $ 180,250
Beverly Hills CA $ 1,981,750
Davis CA $ 613,750
Encinitas CA $ 619,954
Fremont CA $ 910,750
Fresno CA $ 229,285
Grass Valley CA $ 400,611
Irvine CA $ 686,606
La Jolla CA $ 2,125,000
Lancaster CA $ 165,205
Long Beach CA $ 690,479
Mission Viejo CA $ 549,551
Modesto CA $ 215,000
Monterey Peninsula CA $ 501,952
Napa CA $ 575,500
Newport Beach CA $ 1,315,505
Oakland CA $ 791,667
Palo Alto CA $ 1,489,726
Palos Verdes CA $ 1,237,041
Pasadena CA $ 836,625
Pleasanton CA $ 886,629
Rancho Bernardo CA $ 578,333
Riverside CA $ 254,419
Sacramento CA $ 266,117
San Diego CA $ 461,432
San Francisco CA $ 1,363,250
San Jose CA $ 808,926
San Mateo CA $ 1,090,000
San Rafael CA $ 938,727
Santa Barbara CA $ 959,767
Santa Clarita CA $ 463,724
Santa Cruz CA $ 706,558
Santa Maria CA $ 337,125
Santa Monica CA $ 1,460,912
Santa Rosa CA $ 441,150
Thousand Oaks CA $ 683,075
Walnut Creek CA $ 713,750
COLORADO
Boulder CO $ 622,000
Colorado Springs CO $ 200,002
Denver CO $ 577,667
Fort Collins CO $ 234,485
Highlands Ranch CO $ 380,948
CONNECTICUT
Danbury CT $ 371,204
Fairfield CT $ 659,750
Greenwich CT $ 1,519,250
Milford CT $ 407,544
Old Lyme CT $ 502,306
West Hartford CT $ 354,375
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Washington D.C. DC $ 642,962
DELAWARE
Wilmington DE $ 376,250
FLORIDA
Boca Raton FL $ 414,650
Clearwater FL $ 269,823
Fort Myers FL $ 266,000
Gainesville FL $ 282,934
Jacksonville FL $ 299,021
Key West FL $ 815,750
Miami FL $ 510,000
Naples FL $ 283,000
Orlando FL $ 260,000
Ormond Beach FL $ 190,600
Panama City FL $ 291,403
Pensacola FL $ 207,750
Port Charlotte FL $ 142,750
Sarasota FL $ 266,360
Tallahassee FL $ 295,750
Tampa FL $ 244,652
West Palm Beach FL $ 275,725
GEORGIA
Athens GA $ 205,862
Atlanta GA $ 287,250
Columbus GA $ 191,548
Dalton GA $ 174,114
Macon GA $ 139,007
Savannah GA $ 263,250
HAWAII
Honolulu HI $ 712,500
Kihei Maui HI $ 540,044
IOWA
Des Moines IA $ 221,625
Dubuque IA $ 172,500
Iowa City IA $ 217,500
Sioux City IA $ 150,060
IDAHO
Boise ID $ 215,432
Coeur d' Alene ID $ 204,518
ILLINOIS
Aurora IL $ 266,680
Barrington IL $ 475,000
Bloomington IL $ 218,850
Carol Stream IL $ 274,333
Champaign IL $ 229,375
Chicago IL $ 768,333
Deerfield IL $ 591,112
Elgin IL $ 277,888
Flossmoor IL $ 225,075
Galena IL $ 247,500
Joliet IL $ 176,536
Naperville IL $ 340,810
Orland Park IL $ 272,100
Peoria IL $ 209,750
Rockford IL $ 197,450
Schaumburg IL $ 282,050
Springfield IL $ 194,100
INDIANA
Columbus IN $ 158,000
Fort Wayne IN $ 189,750
Indianapolis IN $ 152,570
Lafayette IN $ 189,000
Muncie IN $ 144,996
Munster IN $ 336,000
Schererville IN $ 265,500
South Bend IN $ 183,938
Valpariso IN $ 209,625
KANSAS
Leavenworth KS $ 193,992
Overland Park KS $ 230,317
Topeka KS $ 158,310
Wichita KS $ 144,625
KENTUCKY
Florence KY $ 212,720
Lexington KY $ 188,017
Louisville KY $ 198,721
LOUISIANA
Baton Rouge LA $ 247,265
Lafayette LA $ 194,939
New Orleans LA $ 255,066
Shreveport LA $ 232,100
MASSACHUSETTS
Acton MA $ 521,133
Boston MA $ 1,337,578
Cape Cod MA $ 704,863
Framingham MA $ 466,603
Lexington MA $ 823,538
Northampton MA $ 420,500
Springfield MA $ 287,893
Taunton MA $ 352,325
Wellesley MA $ 1,057,750
Worcester MA $ 242,769
MARYLAND
Annapolis MD $ 687,475
Baltimore MD $ 381,148
Bel Air MD $ 305,113
Bethesda MD $ 759,664
Columbia MD $ 368,676
Easton MD $ 275,112
Frederick MD $ 295,274
Hagerstown MD $ 237,946
Towson MD $ 381,984
Waldorf MD $ 323,735
Westminster MD $ 319,118
MAINE
Augusta ME $ 176,000
Lewiston ME $ 212,250
Portland ME $ 310,500
MICHIGAN
Ann Arbor MI $ 148,000
Cadillac MI $ 171,500
Detroit MI $ 132,000
Grand Blanc MI $ 159,560
Grand Rapids MI $ 163,252
Grayling MI $ 112,675
Indian River MI $ 177,255
Jackson MI $ 148,901
Lake Orion MI $ 174,196
Lansing MI $ 187,000
Midland MI $ 181,167
Mt. Pleasant MI $ 195,014
Petoskey MI $ 170,067
Port Huron MI $ 165,179
Traverse City MI $ 181,204
MINNESOTA
Edina MN $ 392,647
Lake Minnetonka MN $ 323,935
Mankato MN $ 204,125
Minneapolis MN $ 364,000
Rochester MN $ 191,982
St. Cloud MN $ 224,525
St. Paul MN $ 334,933
MISSOURI
Kansas City MO $ 217,366
Springfield MO $ 156,225
St. Louis MO $ 228,852
MISSISSIPPI
Gulfport/ Biloxi MS $ 186,500
Jackson MS $ 238,000
Tupelo MS $ 204,250
MONTANA
Billings MT $ 173,725
Bozeman MT $ 297,488
Great Falls MT $ 151,100
Helena MT $ 239,430
Kalispell MT $ 199,625
NORTH CAROLINA
Asheville NC $ 278,268
Charlotte NC $ 236,750
Fayetteville NC $ 130,875
Greensboro NC $ 187,167
Raleigh NC $ 241,462
Wilmington NC $ 239,675
Winston-Salem NC $ 279,241
NORTH DAKOTA
Bismarck ND $ 189,209
Fargo ND $ 224,426
Minot ND $ 157,167
NEBRASKA
Kearney NE $ 212,100
Norfolk NE $ 187,350
North Platte NE $ 191,000
NEW HAMPSHIRE
Hanover NH $ 555,222
Nashua NH $ 281,250
Portsmouth NH $ 334,887
NEW JERSEY
Basking Ridge NJ $ 502,250
Bridgewater NJ $ 389,129
Clinton NJ $ 490,522
Edison NJ $ 423,554
Haddon Heights NJ $ 238,448
Madison NJ $ 632,325
Marlboro NJ $ 424,768
Montclair NJ $ 545,000
Mt. Laurel NJ $ 294,595
Princeton Junction NJ $ 560,000
Ridgewood NJ $ 801,250
Sparta NJ $ 529,000
Toms River NJ $ 343,500
Warren NJ $ 685,463
Wayne NJ $ 503,000
Westfield NJ $ 596,288
NEW MEXICO
Albuquerque NM $ 215,059
Santa Fe NM $ 362,602
NEVADA
Las Vegas NV $ 213,120
Reno NV $ 272,309
NEW YORK
Albany NY $ 235,607
Binghamton NY $ 177,706
Buffalo NY $ 255,480
Katonah NY $ 729,975
Long Island NY $ 551,670
Middletown NY $ 325,000
Queens NY $ 793,500
Rochester NY $ 184,160
Rye NY $ 745,270
Staten Island NY $ 555,562
Syracuse NY $ 171,711
OHIO
Akron OH $ 121,885
Canton OH $ 131,867
Cincinnati OH $ 189,750
Cleveland OH $ 194,333
Columbus OH $ 307,250
Dayton OH $ 175,420
Harrison OH $ 184,132
OKLAHOMA
Oklahoma City OK $ 164,250
Tulsa OK $ 154,800
OREGON
Bend OR $ 315,663
Eugene OR $ 314,038
Medford OR $ 276,367
Portland OR $ 307,000
Salem OR $ 335,840
PENNSYLVANIA
Allentown PA $ 299,706
Conshohocken PA $ 287,000
Doylestown PA $ 433,000
Erie PA $ 206,500
Exton PA $ 321,308
Lancaster PA $ 257,088
Media PA $ 325,000
Philadelphia PA $ 472,396
Pittsburgh PA $ 241,125
State College PA $ 309,850
PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico PR $ 311,750
RHODE ISLAND
Providence RI $ 290,217
SOUTH CAROLINA
Charleston SC $ 338,726
Columbia SC $ 191,075
Greenville SC $ 214,116
Myrtle Beach SC $ 188,123
TENNESSEE
Chattanooga TN $ 161,975
Knoxville TN $ 223,850
Memphis TN $ 175,770
Nashville TN $ 235,336
TEXAS
Amarillo TX $ 191,347
Arlington TX $ 138,775
Austin TX $ 226,642
College Station TX $ 226,500
Corpus Christi TX $ 204,170
Dallas TX $ 332,375
El Paso TX $ 218,000
Fort Worth TX $ 153,450
Houston TX $ 159,847
Killeen TX $ 160,000
Lubbock TX $ 175,225
Plano TX $ 216,250
San Antonio TX $ 248,960
UTAH
Provo UT $ 231,000
Salt Lake City UT $ 291,000
VIRGINIA
Alexandria VA $ 577,500
Leesburg VA $ 441,116
Lynchburg VA $ 254,912
Richmond VA $ 298,500
Roanoke/Blacksburg VA $ 292,509
Vienna VA $ 645,946
Virginia Beach VA $ 315,175
Winchester VA $ 209,750
Woodbridge VA $ 293,968
VERMONT
Burlington VT $ 352,000
Rutland VT $ 237,600
WASHINGTON
Bellevue WA $ 781,825
Seattle WA $ 568,317
Spokane WA $ 277,500
Tacoma WA $ 312,488
Tri-Cities WA $ 224,475
Yakima WA $ 308,000
WISCONSIN
Appleton WI $ 179,600
Eau Claire WI $ 141,270
Fond du lac WI $ 200,575
Green Bay WI $ 180,200
Madison WI $ 298,000
Milwaukee WI $ 290,648
Wausau WI $ 165,900
WEST VIRGINIA
Beckley WV $ 159,065
Charleston WV $ 203,528
Parkersburg WV $ 155,000
State City/Metro 2008 Sale Price
CA La Jolla $ 2,125,000
CA Beverly Hills $ 1,981,750
CT Greenwich $ 1,519,250
CA Palo Alto $ 1,489,726
CA Santa Monica $ 1,460,912
CA San Francisco $ 1,363,250
MA Boston $ 1,337,578
CA Newport Beach $ 1,315,505
CA Palos Verdes $ 1,237,041
CA San Mateo $ 1,090,000
MA Wellesley $ 1,057,750
CA Santa Barbara $ 959,767
CA San Rafael $ 938,727
CA Fremont $ 910,750
CA Pleasanton $ 886,629
CA Pasadena $ 836,625
MA Lexington $ 823,538
FL Key West $ 815,750
CA San Jose $ 808,926
NJ Ridgewood $ 801,250
NY Queens $ 793,500
CA Oakland $ 791,667
WA Bellevue $ 781,825
IL Chicago $ 768,333
MD Bethesda $ 759,664
State City/Metro 2008 Sale Price
MI Grayling $ 112,675
OH Akron $ 121,885
NC Fayetteville $ 130,875
OH Canton $ 131,867
MI Detroit $ 132,000
TX Arlington $ 138,775
GA Macon $ 139,007
WI Eau Claire $ 141,270
FL Port Charlotte $ 142,750
KS Wichita $ 144,625
IN Muncie $ 144,996
MI Ann Arbor $ 148,000
MI Jackson $ 148,901
IA Sioux City $ 150,060
MT Great Falls $ 151,100
IN Indianapolis $ 152,570
TX Fort Worth $ 153,450
OK Tulsa $ 154,800
WV Parkersburg $ 155,000
MO Springfield $ 156,225
ND Minot $ 157,167
IN Columbus $ 158,000
KS Topeka $ 158,310
WV Beckley $ 159,065
MI Grand Blanc $ 159,560
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