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Real Estate: Investing in College Towns

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

Photograph by Chip Chipman/Bloomberg

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Berkeley, California

School: University of California, Berkeley
Students: 36,142
Median home value: $640,900

A ranking by found Berkeley to be among the most expensive colleges in the nation for room and board -- over $14,000 a year. Finding affordable homes here is tough, says Zillow Chief Economist Humphries: "Markets like Berkeley and Irvine, and Flagstaff and Tucson in Arizona, are likely to have inventory constraints, particularly in the lower- to middle-priced tiers of homes." Home prices there have typically fallen further than in top-tier markets, he says, and investors have been snapping up properties. That produces a breakeven time of seven years, seven months. Rental rates are up more than 8 percent over the past year, to $2,546, according to Zillow. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, though, could run $2,878 a month.