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Published: Jan 28, 2022 15 min read
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In a recent survey, a whopping three-quarters of homeowners told Fannie Mae now is a good time to sell — and they’re probably right.

With strapped supply, skyrocketing prices and a seemingly never-ending stream of hungry buyers, today’s home sellers have a lot of power. They can sell fast and profit big — often without making any repairs or allowing a single home inspector or appraiser on the property.

In some markets, conditions are even better than national averages — like, 68% spike in prices over the last two years or seven-day-selling-time better.

It’s these spots we dubbed America’s Best Places to Sell a Home. It’s a new list for us, but one we’re excited to launch during such a hot time for housing. And we promise: Not all of them are in California (though the Golden State does feature prominently).

Plus, these aren’t places where sellers needed insane sums of cash to buy a home in the first place. The median sale price among our picks averages around $480,000, and all 10 cities have seen prices grow at least 20% in the last year.

To compile this ranking, we looked at five data points that are critical to sellers: ATTOM Data Solutions provided one and two-year changes in home prices; Redfin data shows the share of listed homes that went under contract in two weeks or less, as well as the average sale-to-list ratio (i.e., how much over asking price homes sold for); and from Realtor.com, we got the Hotness Score, an index that ranks markets based on buyer interest and how quickly homes sell.

Have you been toying with the idea of listing your house? See if your city made the list.

1. Holly Springs, North Carolina

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The best spot for home sellers this year is Holly Springs — a suburb southwest of Raleigh with just 39,000 residents. The town is known for its sprawling parks, beloved farmers market and easy, 30-minute drive to the state’s capital.

But in Holly Springs’ housing market, things aren’t nearly as low-key. The median home sold for $443,837 last year, according to ATTOM Data — well above the national average in the third quarter of $307,500 and a jaw-dropping 40% increase from 2019. Sale prices rose 24% in 2021 alone.

Demand is high, too, largely thanks to the town’s close proximity to Raleigh. Zillow recently ranked the Raleigh metro the No. 3 housing market for 2022, noting its strong economy and jobs outlook. The city has a super-low 2.8% unemployment rate (the state’s average is 3.9%) and is projected to gain nearly 100,000 new jobs by 2028. (Raleigh also ranked No. 36 on our flagship Best Places to Live list for 2021-2022.)

With this kind of promise, it’s no wonder Holly Springs claims the highest Realtor.com “hotness” score on our list at 91 — or that, according to Redfin, over half of its homes sell within two weeks.

2. Riverview, Florida

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Vacation home purchases have surged since the pandemic started, and the rise of places like Riverview — with its close proximity to the beach, theme parks like Busch Gardens and Dinosaur World, and other tourist-friendly fare — is proof.

The mid-sized Tampa suburb scores an 81 on Realtor.com’s Hotness Index (meaning demand is high for the area, and homes are selling fast). In fact, homes are selling six days faster than in 2020, and eight in 10 houses sell in two weeks or less.

Another perk for Riverview sellers? That’d be a steep spike in sale prices. The median price over the first three quarters of 2021 was $309,677. While that’s roughly national average (and the lowest on our list), it’s a 40% increase over 2019 prices. In 2021 alone, Riverview prices jumped 28%.

Those trends are likely to continue, too. Zillow predicts Tampa-area home prices will see the biggest growth in 2022, and when you add in the local bidding war rate (56% of buyers find themselves in one), you’ve got the perfect storm for home-selling profits.

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3. Dracut, Massachusetts

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With just 31,000 residents, Dracut might not be home to many people — but those who do live there (at least the 76% who own homes) sure wield a lot of power.

The north Massachusetts town, located around 40 minutes from Boston, saw the second-biggest one-year price increase on our list with a whopping 54% uptick between 2020 and 2021. The median price now clocks in at $394,887 — a $138,000 gain in a single year.

If that weren’t enough, Dracut also claims an 85 on Realtor.com’s Hotness Index (that’s nearing the elusive “very hot” range), and almost half of all Dracut homes sell in two weeks or less — most above-asking price too.

For homeowners near Dracut but not firmly in the town, the news is still good: Nearby North Andover appears later on our list, while neighbors in Westford and Haverhill are seeing particularly strong markets as well. It just might have something to do with skyrocketing rents in nearby Beantown. According to the latest data from rental platform Zumper, Boston rents jumped more than 26% in the last year, pushing many locals to seek other options for housing.

4. Elk Grove, California

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It’s probably no surprise that California cities dominate this list, claiming four out of 10 spots. After all, the state is infamous for having some of the most inflated house prices in the country. (In December, a San Francisco home sold for $1 million over asking price.)

While our No. 4 winner, the southern Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove, doesn’t boast the biggest price tag of the bunch (that’s reserved for hefty Hercules at No. 5), its real estate does cost a pretty penny. The city’s median sale price sits at $547,401 — nearly $250K more than the national average — and has jumped 31% since 2019.

The price spike isn’t entirely surprising when you look at how in-demand Sacramento’s very limited supply of housing is. The metro area notched the nation’s fourth-highest rate of net inflow migration in November, gaining more than 6,400 residents in just one month (many from pricier San Francisco).

Its growing population has made the metro area incredibly competitive for homebuyers. Nearly 70% of Elk Grove homes sold within just two weeks last year, and the average home was off-market in nine days. If the Sacramento Zoo makes its proposed move to the city — which would triple the zoo’s size and bring an estimated 250 new jobs with it, demand for local housing should rise even more.

5. Hercules, California

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Drive about 1.5 hours inland from No. 4 Elk Grove, and you’ll find the next West Coast city on our list — little Hercules.

It has a big name, but with just 25,000 residents, Hercules is the smallest place to make the cut this year. Don’t let its diminutive stature fool you, though. This San Francisco suburb is brimming with opportunities for local homeowners.

Just look at recent listing data for proof. The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro area had only 2,300 active listings last month (for a population of 4.7 million) — the lowest point since at least 2017. The extreme supply shortage, not to mention sky-high rents in the region, are driving residents to smaller towns like Hercules and taking prices up with them.

According to ATTOM Data Solutions, the median sale price in Hercules now sits at $703,849 — an extraordinary 30% increase over 2019 numbers. It’s also the most expensive market on our list, though a far cry from the San Francisco median (a cool $1.3 million)

But just because prices are more affordable than in the city, it’s hardly a breeze buying a home here. Seven out of 10 homes sell within two weeks, and the average time clocks in even lower: A mere nine days on the market.

6. Murfreesboro, Tennessee

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Just 40 minutes southeast of Nashville is our No. 6 market, where homeowners can offload properties at lightning speed. The average Murfreesboro home sells in a mere 10 days — about 13 days faster than in 2020, and nearly 57% of properties are off the market in two weeks or less.

It’s clear why, too: Murfreesboro’s population has surged more than 40% in the last 10 years and new businesses are cropping up day and night — like the $144 million Vanderbilt Rutherford hospital or the $350 million Legacy Sports complex that’s in the works. If approved, the sprawling, 260-acre development would bring more than 3 million annual visitors to the area and an estimated 1,000 jobs.

With a track record like that, it’s no wonder a recent ranking named Murfreesboro the country’s top “boom town” — or that it clocks an 88 on Realtor.com’s Hotness Index, the second-highest on our list. When you throw in a low employment rate, dwindling housing supply (new listings are down 13%) and two-year home price gains of 34%, sellers sure hold a lot of sway in this suburban town.

7. Lathrop & Tracy, California

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For another booming housing market, look to Lathrop. The Central Valley town has climbed over 1,500 spots on Realtor.com’s Hotness Index in the last year, and homes are selling in just 11 days.

Recent home price trends spell strength, too: In the last two years, the median home price in Lathrop has increased 30%. In 2021 alone, the typical home price jumped more than $104,000, clocking in at almost $567,000 by year’s end.

If those numbers weren’t awe-inspiring enough, check out this next one: The town’s population has soared nearly 60% in the last 10 years — a likely reason for the hefty buyer demand. With Tesla set to build a new “Megafactory” here this year (and bring over 1,000 jobs with it), interest in Lathrop real estate will likely rise even more.

Another marker of strong selling conditions? Nearby Tracy — just a quick, 11 miles up the road — is also thriving. The median price there is a smidge higher (nearly $585,000) and has jumped 31% in the last two years. Homes there sell in around 10 days.

8. Federal Way, Washington

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If you bought a home in Federal Way pre-pandemic, you’d be in for some serious profits selling this year.

Federal Way home prices have jumped 32% since 2019 — including 18.5% last year alone. In 2021, the typical home price increased by more than $78,000, clocking in at just over $500,000.

The city has also climbed 300 spots on Realtor.com’s Hotness Index in the last year, and nearly eight in 10 homes are off the market within two weeks of listing. (The average house actually sells in a mere seven days!)

It’s not too surprising that Federal Way is so in-demand. Nearby Seattle is suffering from a record-low dearth of housing. Active listings were down 33% in the month of December, and home shoppers are having to move out of the city to find a place to buy. At an easy 27 minutes down the road, Federal Way is the perfect option for hopeful, homebuying commuters.

9. Flagstaff, Arizona

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Flagstaff may not be Arizona’s largest market (that would be Phoenix, roughly three hours south), but for sellers, it comes with some huge opportunities. The town’s median home price jumped about 21% last year — or a cool $91,100. And since 2019? Prices in the city have increased by over 33%. (They now clock in at $482,462).

There’s also a huge disconnect between supply and demand in this central Arizona town of 75,000 people.

New listings are down 18% in Flagstaff, and overall inventory has decreased for the year too. On the demand side, it claims an 80 on Realtor.com Hotness Index (firmly in the “hot” range), and homes are selling faster than they were in 2020. The median time on the market is just 11 days, and 64% of homes sell in under two weeks.

That’s what happens when a pandemic and widespread remote work capabilities send Americans hunting for second homes and vacation properties. A recent ranking even named Flagstaff the No. 5 place for second home purchases last year.

10. North Andover, Massachusetts

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It’s no coincidence that North Andover and Dracut — both Boston suburbs — made our list. With Beantown’s active listings at their lowest point on record (only 3,700 houses were for sale in December for a metro of 675,000-plus) and prices in the city sitting at nearly $707,000, hungry buyers have to head somewhere.

In North Andover, the median home price clocks in at $561,677 — well below Boston’s numbers, but still the highest of any non-California city on our list. North Andover’s prices have also soared a jaw-dropping 68% in the last two years, and the average home price? It rose more than $213,000 just last year.

Despite the bumps in price, though, competition is still stiff in this suburban spot. The town has an 84 on Realtor.com’s Hotness Index, indicating strong buyer demand and quick-moving supply. The typical house is on the market for a mere 18 days, and new listings are down more than 22%. Overall, the number of North Andover home sales rose 9% last year.

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