The struggling housing market has sellers and buyers searching for the best regions to get a great deal.
Nationwide, home values are down 12 percent, compared with the same time a year ago, according to real estate website Zillow.com.
Zillow, which tracks virtually every house sale in the nation, has ranked the top five best locations for home buyers and sellers.
The results may surprise you, because the best places to buy a home are not necessarily where the houses cost the least.
"For people who are financially qualified, it never has been a better time in nearly 40 years," said Lawrence Yun, at the National Association of Realtors. "I think this is good long-term investment opportunity to get into the market now."
"The No. 1 factor for a market holding its value over time has to do with what types of jobs are fueling the local economy," said Amy Bohuntinsky, of Zillow.com
Look for communities with a strong job market and stable housing values. Some common threads: cities with military bases, state capitals and college towns all fare well because they are more "recession proof," according to Zillow. A strong tourism industry helps too.
For that reason Virginia Beach, Va., is one of the top picks for buyers. The city has a beautiful beach, and three military bases with steady jobs that make it one of the best places to buy.
And right now, there are bargains: 30 percent of homes there sell for less than the asking price.
"Virginia Beach is an area where home values have fallen, but they appear to have bottomed out," Bohuntinsky said. "If you're a buyer, this is your real, real opportune time to get in there and buy when home prices are at the bottom before they start going up again."
New York's capital city is always busy with government work, making it a best buy location. Plus, Albany's homes are affordable with a median price of less than $200,000.
"Albany is a good value. It's right at the median of home values across the U.S.," Bohuntinsky said. "This is a good, affordable place to buy and you're going to get more for your dollar."
More than a third of homes in San Diego are foreclosures, which could result in possible bargains in a normally costly market.
The home values are falling, but statistics indicate San Diego will bottom out in the next year.
"San Diego is not at a bottom yet, but it will hit a bottom at some point in the next year," Bohuntinsky said. "That's something that we can't say about a whole lot of markets."
"The market appears to be turning the corner for the better, inventories are beginning to shrink and this is a good sign that home prices will soon stabilize in many parts of the country," Yun said. "We are beginning to see buyers coming back to the marketplace, and the housing market appears to have turned a corner for the better."