It should come as no surprise that much of the national real estate market has been marred by waves of foreclosures, falling prices and high unemployment.
Which isn't to say that America's real estate landscape is uniformly risky. Believe it or not, there are cities where income is rising, where the job market is comparatively stable and where homes may serve as a solid investment.
Analyzing 315 real estate markets across the country, Cary, North Carolina-based Local Market Monitor recently devised its first "Investment Suitability Ratings" based on factors like long-term population growth, local income, relative job growth and the concentration of jobs in comparatively volatile industries like construction and finance.
The riskiest markets ranked by Local Market Monitor, like Las Vegas, Nevada and Phoenix, Arizona, remain tied to the housing boom. But the top-ranked markets, dubbed "Suitable For Conservative Investors," are all smaller cities, with local job creation engines either provided by universities or regional industry centers like Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina's Research Triangle area.
Which local market is the strongest? Check out a snapshot of Local Market Monitor's projections below -- and visit their website for more information: