What a difference 30 miles makes.
According to a new survey by Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp., Lawrence has the most expensive real estate market in the state, while Topeka, just 30 miles to the west, has one of the most affordable in the country.
The annual survey seeks to determine the price for an average home of a "typical middle-management transferee." This year the company determined that was a 2,200-square-foot home with four bedrooms, 2.5 baths and a two-car garage.
In Lawrence, that home would fetch an average price of $226,800, the survey found. In Topeka, it would garner $141,850, a difference of $84,950 or 59 percent. The Topeka price earned Kansas' capital city the ranking of seventh most affordable of the 348 cities surveyed.
Lawrence also was about 10 percent higher than affluent Overland Park, which had an average price of $206,802.
Not all Lawrence real estate agents are buying the survey's results.
Gary Nuzum, managing broker of Lawrence's Coldwell Banker McGrew Real Estate, said he thought his company's nationwide survey was imperfect.
"We probably are the most expensive market in the state, but not to the degree that this survey says we are," Nuzum said. "An $85,000 difference between Topeka and Lawrence -- that's crazy."
He said he thought a more accurate picture of prices would show the Lawrence market about 20 percent higher than Topeka and 2 percent to 3 percent higher than Overland Park.
|Fort Collins, Colo.||$264,966|
|Kansas City, Mo.||$201,600|
Nuzum said the report wasn't detailed enough. The prices are determined by sale prices sent in by Coldwell Banker brokers from the various markets. But Nuzum said the company didn't specify whether the typical house should include a basement, what type of style it should be or its age, all of which influence prices.
Other real estate agents said they weren't overly surprised by the survey because Lawrence continued to be viewed as one of the more desirable cities in the state.
"I don't think this is an alarming number," said Bryan Hedges, broker at Lawrence's Realty Executives-Hedges Real Estate. "It is amazing how many people we get that move back to Lawrence after they have lived somewhere else. They move back because they realize they hadn't found anyplace as nice as Lawrence.
"Lawrence may be more expensive, but it is worth it."
Topeka real estate agents said they have long known there was a sizable difference in prices between the two cities, although they weren't sure it was as large as the survey indicated.
According to data collected by the county appraisers in Douglas and Shawnee counties, the price difference is closer to 18 percent. The average selling price of homes from January to August in Douglas County was $162,840. For Shawnee County the average price was $137,411.
Vivian Kane, broker of Capitol City Real Estate, said she thought the survey results were positive news for Topeka.
"I certainly hope it will help attract more buyers," Kane said. "I'm biased, but I think Topeka is a wonderful place to live."
Lawrence has been ranked as the most expensive market in the state before. The Coldwell Banker survey ranked the city as the state's most expensive in 2001, but it fell to third place in 2002. Last year the city wasn't included in the survey because Nuzum refused to submit information to Coldwell Banker officials.
This year's survey found the average nationwide sale price was $354,372. The most expensive community was La Jolla, Calif., at $1.7 million. The least expensive was Minot, N.D., at $130,300.