At the turn of the century, the average U.S. home value was $126,000. Today, that figure is at a record high $259,000 – a 106% increase in just two decades.
Of course, the path from A to B was anything but linear with a financial crisis, housing bubbles in major cities, and now COVID-19, which is drastically altering market dynamics.
How has the housing market evolved, on a city-by-city basis?
Two Decades of Housing Prices
The interactive visual below – created by Avison Young Global, using data from Zillow – is a comprehensive look at U.S. home price data over the past two decades.
Editor’s note: Click the circles at the top of the visualization to see other versions of the data, including price changes at the state and zip code level.
The Lay of the Land
A number of things become apparent when looking at historical data of hundreds of U.S. cities.
First, the trajectory of home prices is defined by the 2008 Financial Crisis. After prices took a steep dive, it took a full decade for the average home price to rise back up to the 2007 peak.
Next, broadly speaking, the U.S. average is being “pulled up” by the hottest regional markets. The majority of housing markets have seen between a 50% and 100% increase in price over the past 20 years. This is also true at the state level, where booming markets such as Hawaii saw price increases double the U.S. average.
The West Coast has seen dramatic home price appreciation in over the last two decades, a trend that permeated the entire region. Every single city tracked in this database beat the U.S. average.
California and Hawaii saw the biggest gains, with a number of cities ending up with a 200%+ increase over prices in 2000.
The biggest gains in the entire country over the time period was Madera, California, which is located just north of Fresno. The nearby cities of San Jose and San Francisco rose by an impressive 235% and 219%, respectively. As a practical example – during the meteoric rise of Silicon Valley, average prices in San Francisco shot up from $364,000 to $1.12 million.
Even the bottom city (Yakima, Washington) on the left coast saw an increase of 114%.
Slower Home Price Changes
In general, cities located in America’s “Rust Belt” states saw slower home price growth. In fact, every city in these five states saw price growth below the U.S. average.
Of the top 20 U.S. metros, Detroit and Chicago saw the slowest price growth over the past two decades. Flint, Michigan, was the only city in the country to see a price decline.
At the state level, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio were the bottom three in terms of home price appreciation.
A Useful Barometer
Looking at country or state level data fails to capture the incredible nuance of home values around the country.
That said, since the value of a primary residence makes a significant portion of wealth for most Americans, these price movements serve as a useful barometer of the health of the real estate market, and the economy as a whole.
Ranked: The Cities With the Most Bubble Risk in Their Property Markets
Despite higher mortgages and sharply correcting prices, some cities’ property markets are still in bubble-risk territory.
Which Cities Have Bubble Risk in Their Property Markets?
Buoyed by low interest rates for the last decade, many property markets have seen substantial price growth since 2010. Experts warned that real estate bubbles—in which the price of assets moved up far beyond their intrinsic value—were forming.
The UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index analyzes the real estate market of 25 major cities across the globe and assigns them a score between -0.5 to 2.0 to convey bubble risk. The higher the score, the more imbalanced the market is, with those above 1.5 in “bubble-risk” territory.
We visualize the data in the above map, along with charting the real property price changes in the last year.
Ranking Bubble Risk by City
At the top of UBS’ findings is Switzerland’s financial capital Zurich, with a 1.71 score, putting the city firmly in the bubble-risk zone. With its high-income earners and the country’s low interest rates, the city has been steadily climbing the real estate bubble-risk rankings, 5th in 2021, to 3rd in 2022, to the top spot this year.
Unlike many of its former peers in the risky territory, local prices adapted to increased mortgage rates this year, and have stayed elevated.
Here’s the full rankings for bubble risk in all 25 property markets:
|6||🇭🇰 Hong Kong||1.24||Overvalued|
|9||🇺🇸 Los Angeles||1.03||Overvalued|
|11||🇮🇱 Tel Aviv||0.93||Overvalued|
|18||🇺🇸 New York||0.47||Fair-Valued|
|22||🇺🇸 San Francisco||0.27||Fair-Valued|
|24||🇧🇷 São Paulo||0.09||Fair-Valued|
Tokyo (1.65) is the second and final entry in the real estate markets with immediate bubble risk. This is a decrease from nine total cities in that category last year.
In fact the other seven real estate markets which scored above 1.5 in 2022 have all seen significant real property price drops, many of them in the double-digits, which has moved them into “overvalued territory.”
These include: Frankfurt (-15.9%), Toronto (-14.7%), Amsterdam (-14.0%), Munich (-13.8%), Vancouver (-10.6%), Hong Kong (-7.1%), and Tel Aviv (-0.7%).
The key driver of these price drops across the board are the aggressive interest rate hikes to counter rising inflation, which pushed many housing markets into unaffordability, forcing sellers to lower their prices.
However, a few cities have seen real property price increases, including the aforementioned Tokyo and Zurich.
Here’s UBS’ full ranking of real property price changes between 2022–2023.
Price Growth (YoY)
|4||🇺🇸 New York||+3.2%|
|8||🇧🇷 São Paulo||+1.4%|
|10||🇮🇱 Tel Aviv||-0.7%|
|13||🇺🇸 Los Angeles||-3.7%|
|14||🇭🇰 Hong Kong||-7.1%|
|19||🇺🇸 San Francisco||-10.6%|
A significant outlier within this group, Dubai, has registered double-digit growth property price growth. This was fueled by expanding household incomes—thanks to an economic boom from oil prices—as well as increased immigration by wealthy individuals.
Ranked: Cities With Rising Rental Prices
However, even as property prices have cooled in the majority of the analyzed real estate market, the rental market for many cities, like Vancouver (+10.7%) and Toronto (+6.0%) has moved swiftly in the opposite direction.
In this case, inflation is a key reason as well—pushing up incomes, in turn leading to rising rents. Furthermore, owners-occupants with tenants seek to pass on higher mortgage costs in an effort to reduce their financial burden.
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