July brought a surprising number of small metros to the list of the hottest U.S. real estate markets, according to Realtor.com.
Many of the metros at the top of the list are industrial towns throughout the Rust Belt that have undergone revitalizations and are booming again. Or they're smaller, less expensive alternatives to pricier cities a few hours away. Such is the case with Sacramento, which is just an hour and a half northeast of San Francisco but has a median home price that's nearly half that of the larger city.
The hottest markets "have a decent economy. They're producing jobs. They're growing," says Javier Vivas, director of economic research for realtor.com. "They have lower home price tags, and they have more starter homes than other markets."
The No. 1 slot? It went to the industrial town of Fort Wayne, IN. This city has been on the upswing for years and still has a strong manufacturing sector and a burgeoning arts scene. That's caught the attention of builders, who are putting up new homes throughout the area.
Following Fort Wayne was Rochester, N.Y., Columbus, Ohio, and Pueblo, Colo.