No. 1 market: Kansas City, Kan.
Projected 2012 median home-price gain: 5.8%
"Record-high prices farmers are getting paid for corn used in the production of ethanol. Soy beans and livestock prices are sending the economy in Kansas into a recovery," Colpitts says.
That's boosting real estate in 145,000-person Kansas City, where HomePredictor.com expects median prices to hit $142,830 by year's end -- a 5.8% increase.
Colpitts says Kansas City's existing-home sales "are rising, and are projected to remain that way through 2012 as foreclosures are reduced by higher home prices." Kansas City is home to the 3,900-worker General Motors (Stock Quote: GM) Fairfax Assembly Plant, which builds Chevrolet Malibus and Buick LaCrosses. The community is also home to Associated Wholesale Grocers and the Kansas City Steak Co.
All told, the latest local figures show that the Kansas City, Kan./Kansas City, Mo., metro area had 7.8% joblessness in October -- 1.2 percentage points below the nation's overall rate that month.