CHARLESTON, W.Va. - If you're looking to buy or sell a house, now might be the time.
Three cities in West Virginia have been named among the 25 most promising housing markets in the nation for 2012.
www.HousingPredictor.com, a website that provides independent forecasts on home prices and mortgage rates in all 50 states, ranked Wheeling ninth and Huntington eighth when it comes to places that have bounced back from the real estate crash.
Charleston scored big in third place, just behind Kansas City and Topeka, where increased demand for crops like corn and soy beans has helped spike sales of farmland and surrounding properties.
Of West Virginia, the HousingPredictor forecast says, "As a state that has suffered with poverty and hard times for generations, (it) lands three markets on the best 25 list for the year as it benefits from newcomers moving to the state for its housing affordability."
The site said its rankings are determined by many things, from real estate sales history and employment rates to a city's schools and political climate.
Sharon Morton, a Realtor with Great Expectations in Charleston, said there are multiple factors behind the capital city's surge to the top of the housing heap.
"Charleston in itself is just a very stable housing market because of all the attorneys, the Statehouse, the doctors who all live here," she said. "It's just a constantly thriving community."
That's in comparison to some other cities that have experienced more extreme highs and lows in home sales.
Morton cited Myrtle Beach, where she sold real estate for about a year from 2006 to 2007 before returning to Charleston, her longtime home.
"The market there just completely bottomed out because it was so dependent on people buying second homes, and they just weren't," she said.
The low interest rates being offered by lenders around the state right now also are a big draw.
In September of last year, the West Virginia Housing Development Fund announced it would temporarily offer 30-year fixed rate home loans at 3.125 percent, the lowest interest rate in the agency's history. Just weeks after that announcement, the interest rate dipped even lower, to 2.99 percent.