Price change from peak: -19.44%
Jennifer Taylor is doing all right for herself. Armed with a contracted job in the Pentagon and a recent inheritance, the 31-year-old Washington, D.C., resident is about to close on a new house with a porch swing.
Taylor's big worry: That her city friends won't visit her in suburban Virginia.
"That's like Miranda from Sex and the City moving to Brooklyn," she said. "But I guess I'm doing pretty well if my only concern is how my friends will get to my house from the Metro."
Taylor, a defense contractor, spent two years trying to find a home she would want to live in for many years to come. She didn't see the appeal of cheap foreclosed homes that required thousands of dollars in renovations.
Taylor finally found what she was looking for in the Del Ray section of Alexandria, with its "Main Street America" charm, lower property taxes and easy commute to D.C.
The 1920s farm house includes three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths and an extension built in 2005. The major selling point, Taylor said, was that the house "had plenty of life left in it" - for example, a furnace with 20 more years left and a roof that should last another decade.
The seller asked $549,500 and accepted Taylor's offer of $530,000. The 5% difference is less than the area's 5.82% average decline in home prices through the third quarter of 2008, according to Zillow.com, but Taylor still says "it's a good deal for me." Plus, the home appraised for an additional $20,000, and she was able to lock in a 5% 30-year mortgage.
"I don't want just a house," she said. "I want a home. - J.P.
NEXT: Rochester, NY