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11:28 AM Sun, Oct. 21st

Magazine says: Yavapai County is 3rd top housing market for 2014

The greater-Prescott area and Yavapai County as a whole are coming out of the housing slump.

The recovery is apparently so good that the Prescott metropolitan statistical area (the entire county) now ranks as the third best housing market in the country for 2014, according to Builder magazine.

Job growth, higher wages, home-price appreciation, household formations and other factors propelled the Prescott MSA to the third-best housing market.

The Prescott market produced a market health score of 92.7, and ranked below The Villages, Fla. (95), and Salt Lake City (92.8) to be in third place, according to Jonathan Smoke, chief economist with Hanley Wood, parent company of Builder.

"It is a relative index we use to compare markets across the country against each other now and against all time periods back to 2000," Smoke stated in an email.

He explained Hanley Wood, headquartered in Washington, D.C., bases its calculation methodology on "measuring the local market conditions that are most correlated to the time periods historically when total home sales are the strongest," Smoke wrote.

Hanley Wood calculates the scores every quarter based on the forecast one year out, he stated.

"As a result, when we rank markets using this index, we are in essence predicting which markets in the country should have the best fundamentals for a strong local housing market," he continued.

Smoke explained a market scoring above 90 is expected to be in the top 10 percent of all markets in all 12-month periods going back to 2000.

While the Prescott MSA for new homes is relatively small compared to Phoenix and Tucson, Prescott "should see solid gains in 2012," he wrote.

The high ranking drew praise from the executive director of the Yavapai County Contractors Association and economic development officials for the City of Prescott and Town of Prescott Valley.

"Having such a positive placement is great for Prescott and the surrounding communities because there are so many industry components that are tied to the housing sector," YCCA Executive Director Sandy Griffis said in a prepared statement. "We are already seeing signs of an up tick from construction to home sales to disposable income spending."

The ranking tells Jeff Burt, director of economic initiatives for Prescott, that the "market is coming back, further evidence that the economy is continuing to improve.

"You've got a bit of a rising tide in the country in general," Burt said.

Burt's counterpart in Prescott Valley, Economic Development Manager Greg Fister, said, "Ranking that high does not surprise me. Arizona is a desirable place to live, and our area has always been right up there when it comes to desirability."

Following the Prescott MSA in rankings in order are Charleston, S.C., Honolulu, Seaford, Del., Phoenix, Tucson, Hilton Head-Beaufort, S.C., and Daphne, Ala.

The bottom five markets in order (going to the worse) are Albuquerque, N.M., Greensboro, N.C., Grand Rapids, Mich., Baton Rouge, La., and Detroit.

Follow the reporter on Twitter @KenHedlines