What makes a good market? "Lots of factors," said Lance Ramella, senior managing director of Hanley Wood Market Intelligence in the kick-off presentation to the 2007 Developer Conference. Consistent job growth and a diverse economy are important. But mostly, people are mostly looking for a desirable and livable neighborhood.

While the fastest-appreciating metros are in smaller Western markets, Ramella said that other factors lead him to believe that Nashville, Tenn., is today's greatest market, despite the current housing crisis. His picks also include three cities in North Carolina: Wilmington, Raleigh, and Charlotte. Rounding out the top 10 are Orlando, Fla., Atlanta, Louisville, Ky., Orange, Calif., Austin, Houston, and Salt Lake City.

In good markets such as Tennessee, New York, Charlotte, N.C., San Francisco, and Houston, Ramella notes that employment rates are high, while total permits-for both single-family and attached homes-have not declined significantly. Not everything is rosy, however. "Las Vegas is the poster child for the foreclosure phenomenon,"said Victor Furnells, Ramella's colleague at Hanley Wood Market Intelligence and a fellow panelist. Furnells went on to add that Miami, San Diego, and Phoenix have also been hit hard in the downturn.

And looking ahead? The pair pointed out three trends that will shape the markets of the future-active-adult demographics, multigenerational homes, and technology.