Charting 20 Years of Home Price Changes in Every U.S. City
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Charting 20 Years of Home Price Changes in Every U.S. City

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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.

Going West

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.

West coast prices

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.

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Real Estate

The Median Lot Size in Every U.S. State in 2022

Lot sizes in the U.S. are shrinking compared to a few decades ago. Here’s a look at the median lot size in every U.S. state.

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Comparing median lot sizes in every U.S. state

The Median Lot Size in Every U.S. State in 2022

The “American Dream” is often associated with imagery of spacious estates adorned with white picket fences, wrap-around porches, and sprawling green lawns that seem to go on forever.

But in reality, modern American life has become much more compact. Over the last few decades, the typical lot size in the U.S. has decreased significantly—from 18,760 square feet in 1978 to 13,896 in 2020.

While lot sizes are getting smaller overall, there are still large discrepancies in lot sizes from state to state. This graphic by Angi uses data from the 2022 U.S. Lot Size Index to show the median lot size in every U.S. State, using data from 312,456 Zillow listings as of May 2022.

Largest and Smallest Median Lot Sizes by State

When it comes to the states with the largest plots of land, New England dominates the ranking, with Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine at the top of the list.

RankStateMedian lot size (sq.ft.)
1Vermont78,408
2New Hampshire49,223
3Maine45,738
4Montana43,560
5Alaska42,423
6Mississippi31,799
7Connecticut30,928
8Arkansas24,829
9Tennessee24,394
10Georgia22,215

New England was one of the first regions settled by the Europeans in Colonial America. This long history, along with a large rural population, could explain why the area has strict zoning policies that limit density and require large minimum lot sizes for new builds.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Nevada ranks as the state with the smallest median lot size:

RankStateMedian lot size (sq.ft.)
1Nevada7,405
2California8,327
3Arizona8,726
4Illinois9,025
5Texas9,540
6Colorado10,019
7Florida10,019
8North Dakota10,019
9New Jersey10,019
10Ohio10,019

One possible explanation is that Nevada’s population boom—and subsequent development—is relatively recent. Newer homes listed in the dataset tend to have smaller lot sizes, and in Nevada, 34.6% of homes included in the research were built in 2000 or later.

Comparing Lot Size to Land Price

Generally speaking, the states with the biggest lots also tend to have the cheapest land when broken down per square foot. For instance, in Vermont, properties sold for a median $5.95 per square foot.

comparing average lot sizes in the U.S. to price

View the full-size infographic

On the flip side, in Nevada, land sold for a median $82.80 per square foot—that’s the third most expensive of any state.

Of course, other factors are at play here when it comes to the cost of land. Like anything else that’s for sale, the price of a lot is governed largely by the laws of supply and demand.

For example, housing supply is scarce in Hawaii, where only 4.9% of the land is zoned for residential development, and the median home size is much smaller than in other parts of the country. Not surprisingly, the median plot of land in Hawaii costs $110.86 per square foot, the most expensive on the list.

The Future of Housing in America

Lot sizes remain relatively large in some states for now, but as the U.S. population continues to become more urbanized, living conditions in America could get even tighter.

Will America hold onto its spacious way of living, or could life in the U.S. start to resemble more densely populated regions in the future?

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