In Lexington, it's more than Louisville

The annual Coldwell Banker Home Price Comparison Index released Tuesday showed certain Lexington real estate commanding higher prices than comparable property in other regional cities.

The study compared the average value of 2,200-square-foot houses with four bedrooms, 2½ baths, a family room and a two-car garage across 315 U.S. markets.

In Lexington, the average price for these homes — deemed "typical for corporate middle-management transferees" — was $291,000. Louisville trailed at $241,060, with Florence even more affordable at $223,257.

Cincinnati's average price was $243,583, while Nashville was $239,500.

In 2007, Louisville was the most expensive in Kentucky and Florence the cheapest.

Judy Craft, president of the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of Realtors, said Lexington real estate tends to be more resilient to the economic problems that have plagued the country and have taken some toll in Louisville because of issues with major employers such as Ford.

Lexington has also traditionally been more attractive than other regional cities because of "the quality of life."

Overall, the average sales price of the homes that met the survey criteria was $403,738, a drop of 4.4 percent from 2007.

Not surprisingly, eight out of the top 10 most expensive housing markets in the United States are in California, while eight Midwestern cities are among the 10 most affordable markets.

The sharpest contrast was found between La Jolla, Calif., and Sioux City, Iowa — the most expensive and most affordable cities, respectively, tracked in the study.

In La Jolla, an upscale seaside suburb of San Diego, the average price of homes tracked by the study was about $1.8 million. In Sioux City, it was $133,459 — about 13 times less expensive.

"Areas where there's water and nice climate and ocean and mountains, people are going to pay more for that," said Jim Gillespie, chief executive of Coldwell Banker Real Estate in Parsippany, N.J. "That's just where people want to live."

No city in the study, which also tracked some international markets, was more expensive than Dubai.

A 2,200-square-foot, four-bedroom, 2½ -bath home there averaged $2.5 million, or one-third more expensive than a similar property in La Jolla.

In 15 markets outside the United States, the average home price averaged more than $1 million.