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Analysts project strong year for western markets

Last year, housing markets in western states such as Arizona, California and Texas flourished. It appears that this trend will continue into 2017, according to new projections from the National Association of Realtors. For the last year, improved economic conditions in these states has bolstered buying, with first-time homeowners and others moving in to take advantage of new job opportunities.

Phoenix tops the NAR list, as analysts at the organization expect the market there to grow by more than 7 percent over the next 12 months. Los Angeles came in second, with more modest growth projection of 6.9 percent. Boston, Sacramento and San Bernardino fill out the remaining spots. The rankings also included western metropolises like Tucson, Arizona and Portland, Oregon.

As these western markets grow, prices are expected to rise. The NAR predicts that all of the cities mentioned above will experience increases in the 6 percent range. Of course, this may dampen prospects for buyers with smaller budgets. However, there are alternative options that offer the amenities found in pricier cities. For example, many millennials are avoiding major metros and instead looking in smaller Midwestern states.

"It's easier for millennials to buy in more affordable markets like in the Midwest," NAR Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke explained. "We're seeing large numbers of millennials buying in Midwestern markets with or near big universities. So part of this is an effect of recent graduates with good jobs being able to settle down in these more affordable markets."

Consequently, cities such as Madison, Wisconsin, Columbus, Ohio and Omaha, Nebraska could see growth in 2017.

Southeastern markets are also expected to gather steam in the upcoming year. Communities like Durham and Raleigh, North Carolina sport sales growth numbers of 9 and 7.5 percent, respectively.

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