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Hitting Home: How Healthy Is Your Real Estate Market?

If you're looking for a bargain, head to North Dakota.
Hovnanian Reports Narrower Quarterly Loss as Home Sales Rise

Are you thinking about moving to a new home? If so, you aren't alone. Americans are now spending an average of just 15.4 years in their houses, 2014 census data show, down from a nationwide average of 17.1 years in 2012, according to a study by New York financial technology company SmartAsset. The study shows that residents in Nevada stay in their homes the shortest span of time, for an average of just 12.21 years. Washington, D.C., a city recreated with each election cycle, has the second shortest home ownership rate, at 12.22 years. At the other end of the scale are West Virginia and Pennsylvania, where residents tend to hunker down for nearly 18 years on average after paying closing costs. SmartAsset said it came up with its report by crunching and interpreting data from Zillow and the Census Bureau.

The number of years residents live in their houses is one way SmartAsset measures a housing market's stability. The second factor it considers is the percentage of homeowners with negative equity. Nationwide, 13.2 percent of homeowners have negative equity, SmartAsset said, meaning the market value of their home has fallen below the outstanding amount of their mortgage. Montana has the best ranking, with just 5.7 percent of homeowners reporting negative equity, compared with Maryland, where nearly 20 percent of homeowners find their equity levels in the red. Data for Vermont and Wyoming weren't available.