One of the surprising things about the real estate recession is that there's been little pattern to price declines.
There's been less trading up than in the past. Meanwhile, the low end has benefited from a wave of first-time buyers driven by artificially low interest rates and government tax incentives. And the high end appeared to be the last to decline and the first to rebound.
Owning a house in a town at the midpoint of any market, however, is no recipe for success these days.
The table below includes the median price of an existing home in 10 metropolitan areas, along with those of the two municipalities whose median price is close to that of the larger area. (The data is courtesy of online real estate marketplace Zillow.com, which performed a custom analysis for CNBC.com's special report "Investor's Spring Guide To Real Estate.")
Take a look at how prices stack up. In most cases, the difference in price is around one percentage point.