The U.S. housing market has been branded a seller’s paradise, with limited home inventories pushing up prices.

Actually, though, individual markets across the country vary widely. Strong economic and job growth, for example, drive buyer demand and home prices higher while a sluggish labor market tempers gains.

Similarly, tight housing supplies spur faster price increases and plentiful inventories keep a lid on values.

Western metro areas have both strong employment growth driven by the red-hot technology industry as well as onerous regulations that limit housing construction. The result: Sellers are in the driver’s seat, and homes are selling quickly and above asking price.

Buyers have more leverage in some northern and Mid-Atlantic metro areas that have higher unemployment rates or bigger housing stocks.

“These markets also appear to have a more robust inventory of foreclosed and short-sale properties than some of the more heated (markets), providing buyers — especially first-time buyers — more options to find a home within their budget,” says Phil Karp, senior manager of brokerage services at Owners.com, an online real estate brokerage.

Here are Owners.com’s top 10 sellers' markets and top 10 buyers’ markets in the 12 months through Oct. 31. It’s based mostly on the average difference between homes’ sale and listing prices, the average number of days listings linger on the market and the average number of houses in inventory.

Keep in mind that nationally, homes sold for an average $6,282 below the listing prices, and the average house was on the market 96 days.

Seller’s markets

1. San Francisco area. 3% unemployment rate. Median sales price for single-family homes: $940,221; homes sold for an average $27,702 above listing price; houses were on the market an average 56 days; and the average number of homes listed was 3,086.

2. San Jose area. 3% unemployment rate. Median sales price for single-family homes: $1.3 million; homes sold for an average $24,963 above listing price; houses were on the market an average 60 days; and the average number of homes listed was 1,314.

3. Seattle area. 4% unemployment rate. Median sales price for single-family homes: $547,816; homes sold for an average $5,473 above listing price; houses were on the market an average 64 days; and the average number of homes listed was 4,083.

4. Portland, Ore., area. 3.9% unemployment rate. Median sales price for single-family homes: $415,046; homes sold for an average $7,219 below listing price; houses were on the market an average 74 days; and the average number of homes listed was 3,483.

5. Dallas area. 3% unemployment rate. Median sales price for single-family homes: $448,360; homes sold for an average $4,187 below listing price; houses were on the market an average 66 days; and the average number of homes listed was 9,834.

The remaining top seller's markets are the metro areas of Sacramento, Austin, Raleigh, N.C., Tucson and Denver.

Buyer's markets

1. Chicago area. 4.7% unemployment rate. Median sales price for single-family homes: $302,898; homes sold for an average $16,015 below listing price; houses were on the market an average 108 days; and the average number of homes listed was 9,683.

2. Virginia Beach area. 4% unemployment rate. Median sales price for single-family homes: $255,737; homes sold for an average $11,959 below listing price; houses were on the market an average 104 days; and the average number of homes listed was 2,703.

3. Philadelphia area. 4.4% unemployment rate. Median sales price for single-family homes: $272,112; homes sold for an average $13,973 below listing price; houses were on the market an average 115 days; and the average number of homes listed was 5,952.

4. Jacksonville area. 3.3% unemployment rate. Median sales price for single-family homes: $255,144; homes sold for an average $15,229 below listing price; houses were on the market an average 102 days; and the average number of homes listed was 2,085.

5. Hartford, Conn., area. 4.3% unemployment rate. Median sales price for single-family homes: $277,086; homes sold for an average $12,105 below listing price; houses were on the market an average 116 days; and the average number of homes listed was 559.

The remaining top buyer's markets are the metro areas of New York-Newark, Miami, San Antonio, Birmingham, Ala., and Houston.