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What you get for your real estate dollars

Wonder if what you spent on your small apartment could have a bought a mansion somewhere else? Real estate guru Barbara Corcoran compares the country's housing price averages.
/ Source: TODAY

The wavering housing market sure is a hot topic these days, as it affects those looking to buy and sell across the country. And while there are deals to be had out there, what you get for your money still fluctuates a great deal — depending on where you live and what your community offers. Are you an urbanite or a suburban dweller?  Do you need a good school system or are cultural amenities top on your list?  It will make a big difference in the price of your home.

Real estate expert Barbara Corcoran highlights homes across the country to find the difference in dollars:

The best deals are obviously in the Midwest and the South ($173,000 and $186,000) and the worst deals are on the West Coast ($349,000) followed by the Northeast ($290,000). The properties listed below, which are all a value for the money, offer a good example of the wide range in property to dollar ratio across the country.

Under $300,000
1. Studio apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y., $292,000

It's tiny, only 400 square feet, but it's on a beautiful tree-lined block, steps from a city park with playgrounds, tennis courts and more. It's a great value for an up-and-coming neighborhood, surrounded by a stretch of great restaurants and a short train ride from Manhattan and all that it has to offer. Corcoran Group Real Estate:

2. 4BR, 2 bath in East Grand Rapids, Mich., $279,000

Here's a classic colonial home in a wonderful private community. The school system is one of the best in the state and kids can ride their bikes to get ice cream without any worry. It's newly renovated, with 2600 square feet. That includes a wine cellar, exercise room, big kitchen, brick patio and more. Coldwell Banker: $500,000 - $550,000 range 3. 2BR, 2½ bath in Tucson, Ariz., $499,000.

This Southwestern-style townhome is brand-spankin' new in a gated community surrounded by country clubs, golf courses and endless sunshine. Long Realty Foothills:

4. 4BR, 3 bath on 11½ acres in Decatur, Ala., $539,000

You get a lot of land and a lot of house — 3800 square feet. The property comes with its own pond and a screened-in pool and patio. It also has a huge kitchen with two big pantries. And even with all that property, it's just minutes from town. ABC Realty LLC:

What you get for a million dollars 5. 1BR, 1 bath in Malibu, Calif., $979,000

Here you're buying location — and it's a good one. This home sits on a third of an acre on top of a mountain with beautiful California views. The school system is excellent, with some of the highest SAT scores in the country. Coldwell Banker:

6. 5BR, 5½ bath in Raleigh, N.C., $1,170,000

This is a real Forrest Gump-style big Georgian mansion. It has a rambling 6000 square feet on five wooded acres. There's the 3-level deck, a 2-story great room, and a gourmet kitchen that would make any cook proud. It's also in a very temperate climate with one of the most neighbor-friendly communities in the U.S. ReMax One Realty:

Figure out what you really want and whether or not you're getting good value: 1. Make a short list of the three things most important to you: Is it the school system? Is it the space? Or is it the commute?

2. You need to understand that you can't get everything you want, but you can always get the three things that are most important to you. If you want a shorter commute you'll get a smaller house. But if you buy a smaller house, you'll pay lower taxes. If a great neighborhood is your top priority, you'll automatically get a great school system and that's great if you have kids.

3. Values are always personal, and it's no different with house buying. It's all out there. You've got to be clear about what's most important to you.