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Real Estate: Investing in College Towns

By Suzanne Woolley - 2012-11-05T17:52:30Z

Photograph by Tony Tye/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/Zuma Press

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Schools: Univ. of Pittsburgh, Carnegie-Mellon
Students: 28,766*; 12,058
Median home value: $86,400

Pittsburgh was featured in National Geographic's "Best Trips 2012" as an "Extreme Metropolitan Makeover." It scores high on Zillow's breakeven horizon, a metric that factors in the costs of owning a home to calculate the number of years after which buying makes more financial sense than renting. (It assumes a 30-year fixed mortgage.) For an investor, the shorter the period the better. Pittsburgh has the lowest breakeven horizon on this list, at one year and eight months. (The longest, on the last slide, is nine years and nine months.) Enrollment at Carnegie-Mellon is up almost 15 percent over five years, and about 4 percent at University of Pittsburgh. Payment on a 30-year fixed mortgage at 3.5 percent would be $388 -- handily covered by the Zillow Rent Index's $934.

*For 2011-2012 year

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