A new national report ranks Owatonna No. 1 in affordable housing among Minnesota cities. The Home Listing Report, prepared annually by Coldwell Banker Real Estate, says the average four-bedroom, two-bathroom house costs $145,646 in Owatonna. That’s nearly $20,000 less than second-ranked Willmar ($165,072).

The rest of the top five includes Moorhead ($166,569), St. Cloud ($167,552) and Albert Lea ($179,929).

St. Paul and Minneapolis, by comparison, have average list prices of $476,119 and $595,159, respectively, for four-bedroom homes.

“When we bring employees in and show them that housing is the most affordable, that’s a great selling point,” Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz told the People’s Press newspaper.

Kuntz said his city can use the report in its marketing efforts to persuade people who work in Owatonna to reside there as well.

Jennifer Libby, the president of the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce, said the news “reinforces the environment and culture we’ve been working to build — that you can work hard, get a good job and live a high quality of life, that you can have the amenities the community has to offer at a reasonable cost of living.”

CURT BROWN

@stribcbrown