Home prices have gone through the roof over the past few years, especially in the big cities along the coasts. The cost of buying a home in the United States has risen for 60 straight months, jumping 7.7 percent from last year to a median price of $228,400 in February, the National Association of Realtors reported last month. But beyond the major urban markets, buyers can still find houses for well below $100,000, according to figures from Zillow, the online real estate database. Hot spots for bargain hunters include small towns in Texas, Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee that boast scenic surroundings and friendly neighbors.
Median home value: $67,300
This little town of just over 9,000 people can be found in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains on Potato Creek. There are numerous parks and places to hike in this rural community, which is also within 60 miles of the state's three largest cities, Atlanta, Macon, and Columbus.
Median home value: $60,200
This little town of 11,147 is located in South Texas, about 50 miles north of South Padre Island and Brownsville, which is on the Mexican border. Its official motto couldn't be friendlier: "The City With a Smile."
Median home value: $62,400
If you like bird-watching, Connersville is the place to be. This town of just over 13,000 hosts the Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary, many outdoor activities along the White River, and employment opportunities at 50 industrial firms. It is also centrally located to Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Dayton, Ohio.
Median home value: $66,900
There is a lot to do in this West Tennessee town of more than 10,600. There are shops, restaurants, and an active theater company in Union City's revitalized downtown. If nature's more your thing, check out the bird habitat on Lake Isom.
Median home value: $74,300
Located along the Schuylkill River roughly 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia, this town of 14,324 is described as a "quaint, family-oriented community." The seat of Schuylkill County, Pottsville has a busy downtown, with businesses like Yuengling Brewery, Jerry's Classic Cars and Collectibles, and Sovereign Majestic Theater drawing 100,000 visitors a year.
Median home value: $75,200
This city of 45,332 in central Arkansas got its picturesque name when it was founded in the 1800s by a settler and his wife on a bluff with tall pines overlooking the Arkansas River. Among the things to see downtown are 13 murals that highlight local history and attractions.
Median home value: $75,600
This industrial city of nearly 50,000 gets its name from the Saginaw River, which runs through the city center. The gateway to vacation and recreation hot spots in scenic northern Michigan, Saginaw's downtown needs work, although there is an entertainment district in the "Old Town."
Median home value: $75,800
There are more than 15 parks in this southern Ohio town of 20,326, including Mound Park, home to historic Indian mounds. Laid out between the Scioto and Ohio Rivers, Portsmouth offers "endless outdoor recreation" and bills itself as the place "Where Southern Hospitality Begins."
Median home value: $76,200
This little town of 4,534 is in the northwest corner of the state, roughly 40 miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and about 90 miles from Atlanta. The town's website boasts that Summerville residents "exhibit warmth, friendliness, and helpfulness to their neighbors and visitors."
Median home value: $76,400
A town of 5,457 tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains, Big Stone Gap is the setting for the popular novel and movie by the same name, about an aging spinster who discovers a family secret that changes her world. It is also home to 10 parks and the annual Gathering in the Gap Music Festival.
Median home value: $78,600
This town of nearly 10,000 is tucked away in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky by the Cumberland Gap, the famous passage through the mountains that countless settlers trekked through in the 1700s. There are miles of hiking trails, a cave, and a museum at nearby Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.
Median home value: $79,000
The Boy Scouts' annual Pinewood Derby tournament, held at the local mall, was one of the top news stories last month in this town of 16,389, located on the Forked Deer River, roughly 80 miles northeast of Memphis. The town is the regional medical, employment, retail, and cultural hub for 300,000 residents in Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas.
Median home value: $79,200
Muncie was the focus of the famous Middletown study in the 1920s and 1930s by sociologists who studied it as an example of the typical mid-American town. Muncie, a city of 70,211, is No. 46 on Forbes' list of the "Best Small Places for Businesses and Careers."