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And America's top housing market is...

America's top housing market

Apparently, Barbie isn't just a bodacious beach-comber but a savvy real estate investor. Malibu is one of the nation's most beautiful housing markets—and the most expensive.

In a survey of nearly 2,000 markets, Coldwell Banker Real Estate ranked Malibu the priciest, citing a nearly $2 million divide between it and the least costly market: Cleveland.

Malibu, Calif.
Luis Alvarez | E+ | Getty Images

"That disparity has always been there, some years greater than others," said Budge Huskey, CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate. "It is just a reflection of the significant distinction in values based on the location typically between coastal areas and interior areas, as well as economic conditions within those respective markets."

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TABLE Expensive and Affordable Real Estate MArkets 131104

Rank 2013 Most Expensive<br> Markets Avg. Listing<br> Price 2013 Most Affordable<br> Markets Avg. Listing<br> Price
1"Malibu<br> Calif.""$2,155,900 ""Cleveland<br> Ohio""$63,729 "
2"Newport Beach<br> Calif. ""$1,773,824 ""Garfield Heights<br> Ohio""$66,075 "
3"Saratoga<br> Calif. ""$1,684,261 ""Flint<br> Mich.""$84,437 "
4"Los Gatos<br> Calif.""$1,360,497 ""Saginaw<br> Mich.""$87,181 "
5"San Francisco<br> Calif. ""$1,309,599 ""Jackson<br> Miss.""$94,155 "
6"Stone Harbor<br> NJ""$1,301,727 ""Sioux City<br> Iowa""$97,969 "
7"Cupertino<br> Calif.""$1,292,400 ""Jonesboro<br> Ga.""$98,332 "
8"Orono<br> Minn.""$1,251,873 ""Moberly<br> Mo.""$99,593 "
9"Weston<br> Mass.""$1,229,000 ""Buffalo<br> NY""$101,631 "
10"Redwood City<br> Calif.""$1,203,357 ""Kankakee<br> Ill.""$103,187 "
11"Breckenridge<br> Colo.""$1,177,795 ""Utica<br> NY""$103,877 "
12"San Mateo<br> Calif.""$1,132,523 ""Ashland<br> Wis.""$104,774 "
13"Great Neck<br> NY""$1,103,364 ""Hillsdale<br> Mich.""$106,384 "
14"Pasadena<br> Calif.""$1,092,087 ""Johnstown<br> Pa.""$107,039 "
15"Greenwich<br> Conn.""$1,087,300 ""Arcadia<br> Fla.""$107,691 "
16"Wellesley<br> Mass.""$1,079,600 ""McCook<br> Neb.""$107,986 "
17"Sunnyvale<br> Calif. ""$1,077,025 ""Park Forest<br> Ill.""$109,709 "
18"Santa Barbara<br> Calif.""$1,061,475 ""Niagara Falls<br> NY""$109,809 "
19"Danville<br> Calif.""$1,018,300 ""Eatonton<br> Ga.""$111,108 "
20"Kailua<br> Hawaii""$1,004,567 ""Lehigh Acres<br> Fla.""$111,410 "
21"Mercer Island<br> Wash.""$999,276 ""Kansas City<br> Mo. ""$113,718 "
22"Campbell<br> Calif.""$974,212 ""Dayton<br> Ohio ""$115,176 "
23"Larchmont<br> NY""$972,150 ""Camden<br> Ark.""$116,072 "
24"Westport<br> Conn.""$966,582 ""Akron<br> Ohio""$116,906 "
25"Newton<br> Mass.""$912,745 ""Aurora<br> Mo. ""$117,013 "

The report identified 20 markets where a four-bedroom, two-bath house costs more than $1 million and eight markets where a similar home lists for less than $100,000. Thirteen of the country's 25 priciest markets are in California.

In contrast, 15 of the 25 cheapest markets are in the Midwest. New York casts the widest net, with markets ranked on both the most and least expensive lists.

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While the U.S. has always been a wide-ranging real estate market, international investors are playing a bigger role—in high-end trophy properties as well as midrange homes.

"The U.S. is still the safest place to park capital," Huskey said. "Even in markets that historically you would not perceive to be those magnets—such as Manhattan or California or Florida. We looked at markets like San Antonio, Texas, and you'll find that 20 percent of the traffic on the website is coming from outside the United States."

As for the top spot, international moguls and movie stars alike have long considered Malibu a getaway, but that may be changing.

"With its laid-back yet star-studded lifestyle, Malibu is undergoing a transformation from a seasonal destination to a year-round locale," Madison Hildebrand said in a release. Hildebrand is an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Malibu and one of the stars of Bravo's "Million Dollar Listing. "

(Read more: Housing's top 'turnaround' markets)

An average "sample-sized" house in Malibu lists for $2.15 million, according to the Coldwell Banker report. With inventories still on the low side amid rising demand, Barbie's beach house many just be a gold mine.

By CNBC's Diana Olick. Follow her on Twitter @Diana_Olick.