31 Powerful Housing Statistics That Will Make You Think
If you’re anything like me, the thought of reading through a whole page of statistics on anything makes your eyes glaze over!
And when the subject is something as potentially boring as housing statistics – that would be a double-glaze!
What would people want to know, I wondered?
How many houses are there in the world? How many houses were sold in 2018 or 2019? Who is buying and who is selling? Is the value of my house improving?
I know – boring!!!
Then I got to thinking about it: If the value of all the houses in the USA is more than $30 trillion, that’s way more than the GDP of the US! That’s a lot of money. No wonder people might be interested.
So, I started looking at real estate statistics and housing market data, trying to figure out those complicated tables in housing indexes and deciphering the difference between median and average prices and real and nominal values.
Yeah – I’m trying to impress you. But seriously, I found that this was a lot more fascinating than I’d ever imagined. And of course, it affects all of us in some way if we’re living somewhere with a roof over our heads.
So (I can’t believe it!) I’ve written a page on housing statistics!
I hope you enjoy it and read it through to the end (and then let me know if you can’t believe that either!)
Oh, by the way, that statistic about the $30 trillion was a freebie – so there really are 32 statistics for you to think about!
Incredible Housing Stats (Editor’s Choice)
- In real terms, the average price for new homes in 2018 is the same as in 2005
- There is no state where a minimum wage worker working 40 hours a week can afford an average 2-bedroom apartment
- Housing statistics by zip code give a clue to housing affordability
- Median rent prices range from $721 in South Dakota to $1,847 in California
- The median net worth of homeowners is 90 times that of renters
- In 2018, renters in the US spent more on housing than the GDP of 145 countries
- Buyers may need up to 96% of their incomes to service their mortgages
- African American housing statistics show that Black ownership rates are no better than they were 30 years ago
Housing Price Statistics
The price of housing is important, not just for affordability, but also from the point of view of an owner’s net worth. But housing market statistics should be read with a bit of caution, so you will see that I have done a bit of analysis here and there to highlight where all may not be as it seems at first glance.
Let’s start by building on the freebie statistic:
1. One year’s growth in the value of the USA housing market is equal to the GDP of Canada.
By the end of 2017, the total value of all US housing was $31.8 trillion – 1.5 times the GDP of the US and nearly 3 times that of China.
It grew by nearly $2 trillion in 2018, taking the value to $33.3 trillion. The growth alone matches the GDP of Canada.
The value of houses in large US cities might surprise you:
2. In 2017, the value of homes in Los Angeles was equal to the GDP of the UK, and in New York more than the GDP of France
In 2017, the value of homes in Los Angeles was $2.7 trillion. This matched the GDP of the UK. Similarly, in New York, the house value was $2.6 trillion – close to the GDP of France.
(Some GDP numbers I’ve seen don’t exactly match this stat – but you get the point.)
Ok. Now let’s start looking at the numbers on a more granular level.
3. On a national level, the average price of a new home has grown from $21 thousand in 1965 to $385 thousand in 2018.
A change from $21 thousand in 1965 to $385 thousand in 2018 looks like an astounding growth of over 17000%!
However, this is the so-called “nominal” price and does not take into account the value of the dollar in 2018 or the inflation rate. When these are factored in, we find that $21 thousand in 1965 is the equivalent of just under $166 thousand in 2018. This means that the “real” price of a new house in the US has increased from $166 thousand to $385 thousand – an increase of 132%.
Remember that I said we should be careful of real vs. nominal prices?
Here’s another difference in statistics you should be on the look-out for:
4. Real estate prices in September 2019 show new homes averaged $362,700. The median price was $299,400.
We know how to work out the average. Add up the prices and divide by the number of houses sold. So, for September, the average (also sometimes called the mean) price of a new home was $362,700.
The median is calculated by listing all the sale prices from highest to lowest and finding the sales price in the center. For September 2019, this means that there were the same number of sales above the center-point of R299,400 as there were below it.
The median is often used for housing statistics because it is more stable and is not easily affected by outlier prices.
Here’s another tricky statistic:
5. US Housing statistics show that US house prices have recovered from the 2008 crash and now exceed the highs of 2006.
The Case Shiller National Home Price Index gives a value of 100 to house prices in 2000. In 2006 the index value was 183 – that is, prices had increased by 83% since 2000. The values then dropped to reach a low of 135 in 2011. By 2016 the index value was back up to 184 and in 2018 had increased to 205.
By now, you’ll know that I’m going to throw in a question here: What happens when we look at real prices rather than nominal prices?
6. In real terms, the average price for new homes in 2018 is the same as in 2005
The Statista data we used earlier showed that, in nominal terms, the average price for new houses was $297 thousand in 2005 and $385 thousand in 2018.
In real terms, the equivalent of $297 thousand in 2005 is $385 thousand in 2018. (I was surprised when it worked out like this!) This means that the real average price in 2018 is the same as it was in 2005.
So there’s no doubt that house prices have recovered since the crash, but perhaps we are not “exceeding” them by as much as we might have thought.
What’s more, there is a bit of a caution provided by a different housing index:
7. US housing trends show that Q2 2019 house prices increased by 5% over the previous year, but the pace is slowing.
Trends in repeat sales show that:
- The increase of 5% in the second quarter of 2019 was a continuation of an eight-year run of increased prices
- The pace of increase in home prices had decelerated for five consecutive quarters
- The pace of home sales had slowed over the past two years.
This slowing pace was attributed to constraints in affordability as well as limited availability of inventory.
So, let’s look at what qualifies as affordable housing.
8. Housing price statistics by state show that there is no state where a minimum wage worker working 40 hours a week can afford an average 2-bedroom apartment.
Households need an hourly wage of $34.69 to afford a two-bedroom apartment in California.
It’s even more in Hawaii: $36.82. Massachusetts, District of Columbia and New York are right behind – all needing a minimum wage above $30. The lowest required in Puerto Rica at $9.59, followed by Arkansas at $14,26.
The recent vote in Congress to more than double the current minimum wage of $7.25 to $15 by 2025 would still not be enough. If that rate were in place today, only workers in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, West Virginia, Arkansas and Puerto Rica would be able to afford an apartment.
Those are scary statistics!
So, what percentage of housing is affordable?
9. Housing statistics by zip code show the regions where you will find affordable housing
The Trulia research looked at how affordable certain areas are for typical local buyers, earning that area’s median income. Here are some of the results:
- In the metros of San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, Ore., Miami and Tampa: they have the highest number of zip codes where no homes (zero) can be considered reasonably affordable. In San Francisco, more than 25% of zip codes fell into this category.
- Metros of Pittsburgh, Columbus. Ohio and St Louis: highest number of zip codes where “all homes (100%) are affordable”. In Pittsburgh, all homes were affordable in 22.4% of zip codes.
- Zip codes further than 30 miles from the city center and zip codes where houses were older than 20 years also tended to be the most affordable.
The good news here is that there are places in the USA, even in metros, that qualify as affordable housing.
There are many types of houses in the USA, depending on the definitions you are using. Let’s look at some of them:
10. Over 60% of all housing units in the US are detached single-family homes and they also account for 82% of all sales.
(Statista; Infoplease.com – based on US Census data)
How many residential homes are there in the US? In 2018 there were 138.45 million.
But the favorite for Americans is the detached single-family home. The number of single-family homes in the US is close to 70 million. They make up more than 60% of the total housing units. In 2018, they also made up 82% of all sales.
11. The increase in the inventory of starter and trade-up homes in Q1 of 2019 might be bad news.
Generally, US housing data reflects types of housing units as starter, trade-up and premium.
There has been an increase in the inventory of starter and trade-up homes in Q1 of 2019. There is also an increase in the number of premium homes available on the West Coast – and especially in San Jose, California. Rather than this being an indicator of a growth in the number of homes for sale, it seems to be an indicator of lower demand. There are fewer buyers where house prices have escalated, and the homes are sitting on the market for longer, inflating the inventory counts.
There’s another type of house that is often overlooked, but which has potential housing economic value:
12. Student or college housing statistics show 2.66 million beds for students in 2018
Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) units provided 2.66 million beds for students in 2018. This number is expected to increase to 2.84 million by 2021.
These units may be on or off-campus and are studios or large apartments with facilities for students to share. Most students (63%) rent a private room rather than a full studio.
13. $10.2 billion was invested in student accommodation in the US in 2018
Student housing in the US and around the globe is becoming a key investment opportunity as numbers of universities and students increase, particularly in Asia. Global mobility of students is also driving investment.
If all the talk of starter homes and housing trends is making your eyes cross, perhaps you’d like to know something simple, like which style of house is most popular in the US:
14. Ranch style homes are the most popular style in 34 states in the US
You’ll recognize an American ranch house. It is a single-story, has open floor plans mostly in L- or U-shape and usually has a garage attached.
The ranch-style was most popular in 34 states, followed by the so-called modern style in 15 states.
The reason for popularity may have been affordability. For example, in Atlanta, Georgia or Portland, Oregon, the median prices for ranch style houses were between half and three-quarters of overall median prices. However, in a city like Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the median price for ranch houses was $140 per square foot, much higher than the overall median of $91.
So maybe Americans like their traditional house style, regardless of cost!
The Rental Market
We ask how many homes there are in the USA, how many are on the rental market and what people are paying for them.
15. According to housing statistics for Q3 2019, the number of renters is 43 million.
(US Census Bureau)
In Q3 of 2019, there were 140 million housing units in the US. Nearly 80 million of them were occupied by their owners, 43 million were rented and 17 million were vacant.
16. Median rent prices range from $721 in South Dakota to $1,847 in California.
US Census Bureau; Apartment List)
The median rent price in the US in Q3 of 2019 is a little over $1,000.
However, there are considerable variations in statistics by state, as can be seen in the range of median rentals for a 2-bedroom unit:
- Below $800: Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South, Dakota, West Virginia.
- Above $1,500: California, District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York
The lowest is South Dakota ($721) and the highest California ($1847). (I’m sure you’re starting to see a pattern in the California housing statistics!)
But here’s a statistic that might shock you:
17. The median net worth of homeowners is 90 times that of renters
According to 2016 statistics on wealth and assets, the median net worth of homeowners was $228,000 compared to just $2 523 for renters – 90 times more!
Interestingly, even if the equity of the home was excluded, the median net worth of homeowners was still 36 times that of renters. They tended to have more invested in retirement accounts, stocks and other properties. The only asset where renters had more assets than homeowners was in annuities and trusts.
Let’s end this section on rentals with another of those GDP comparisons:
18. In 2018, renters in the US spent more on housing than the GDP of 145 countries
(HotPads; Wiki – based on IMF stats)
The total amount spent on rent in 2018 was $504.4 billion, $12.6 more than in the previous year.
A quick look at GDP figures around the world shows that in 2019 there were only 42 countries in the world whose GDP was higher than that! So renters spent more than the GDP of 145 countries!
No wonder they are complaining about being cost-burdened!
(That’s a real term, by the way – it means that you are spending more than 30% of your income on housing. Low-income housing statistics show that this is most common among lowest-income earners, but it is becoming problematic even for those earning up to $75,000 pa.)
Buyers’ Statistics and Demographics
The next lot of housing statistics may sound boring – but they drive the housing markets.
We can start by asking how many houses were sold in 2018 – or, put another way, how many houses were bought in the year?
19. The number of houses sold in the USA in 2018 was 5.3 Million
(Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies)
Of the 5.3 million existing homes sold in 2018, 4,7 million were single-family homes, and about 600,000 were condos and co-ops.
So, who’s doing the buying? It seems it’s the Millennials.
20. The demographic profile of buyers in the housing market for 2017 – the numbers
(Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies)
Unsurprisingly, first-time buyers are mostly younger, although nearly half of all houses are owned by older people.
- 46% of all households were headed by people older than 55
- 46% of all buyers were aged between 25 and 34 (those under the age of 25 contributed another 7%)
Repeat vs. first-time buyers:
- Repeat buyers accounted for 61,5% of all home purchases
- The median age of first-time buyers was 34
- 53% of first-time buyers were households headed by someone under the age of 35
- First-time homeowners have traditionally been married. Now there is a shift to larger numbers of “never marrieds”. There seem to be more people prepared to buy properties on their own, or with unmarried partners.
- The race/ethnicity breakdown of all buyers:
o 66% White
o 13% Black
o 14% Hispanic
o 7% Asian/Other
There are some other demographics to be considered: LGBT and race. The question is whether there is housing discrimination in the housing market against these groups.(We’ll discuss this later)
21. Move over Gen X, the Millennials are taking over the housing market
In September 2019, 44% of loan originations were from millennials. The Gen X share was 39% and Baby Boomers dropped to 16%.
Millennials are also buying more expensive houses – the median price paid in September was $250,000 – an increase of 6% from 2018. In fact, the comment is made in various reports is that Millennials are skipping the “starter home” stage as first-time buyers and moving immediately to what might previously have been regarded as a “trade-up” home.
This is where the reality of buying a house sets in. You are taking on a huge debt and are committing to monthly mortgage payments for up to 30 years.
All in all, it’s a big decision.
The mortgage rates seem to be on the increase and there are also differences in mortgage statistics by state, so this needs careful consideration.
22. Buyers in some states may need up to 96% of their incomes to service their mortgages.
A rule of thumb is that your mortgage should be no more than 28% of your income. But in Q1 of 2019, the median price of starter homes had increased by 12.4% to just under $140,000. Monthly mortgage costs would take up 37.7% of a typical first-time buyer’s income.
However, the median price for a starter home has reached an astronomical $759,000 in San Jose, California. If the median income of a starter home buyer is taken as about $44,000, it means that 96,5% of this income would be needed to service the mortgage. Similar figures apply to other cities in California.
What’s more, it’s no better for renters:
23. Real estate prices in some states are the number one reason for people renting rather than buying
In 2017, 45% of renters said that the main reason for renting is that they cannot afford the payments on a median-priced home in their area. In areas such as the West Coast, the Northeast and Florida as few as 10% of renters said that they could afford the mortgage payments (let alone the property taxes and everything else that goes with homeownership!).
But renters are locked in a vicious circle:
If you are paying high rentals you cannot also save enough for the down payment on a house. And the lower the down payment, the higher the mortgage will be!
Luckily, somehow, many Americans have found a way around all of this, as the following stats will show you.
How many Americans own a house?
24. In 2018, 64.4% of all Americans owned a home.
The homeownership numbers went down after 2008, but they are rebounding again and reached 64.4% in 2018.
Not all groups are equally represented, however.
25. African American housing statistics show that current Black ownership rates are no better than they were 30 years ago
The racial distribution of homeownership in 2018 is as follows:
- White – an increase of 1.1 percentage points from 2016 to 73%
- Asian – an increase of 2.6 percentage points from 2016 to 57%
- Hispanic – an increase of 1.1 percentage points from 2016 to 47.1%
- Black – an increase of 0.7 percentage points from 2016 to 42,9%
The problem is the low increase for Black Americans. As a result, the gap between Blacks and Whites widened, while the gap closed for the other groups.
Black homeownership was also the most severely affected by the 2008 crash, coming as it did on top of a difficult history that can be seen in housing segregation statistics and housing discrimination statistics.
So their slow rebound now means that their current ownership rate is no better than it was nearly 30 years ago.
Meanwhile, there is another group to consider: the LGBT community.
26. LGBT housing discrimination statistics show just 3 complaints per 100,000 LGBT adults, but homeownership is only 49%
(UCLA – Williams Institute; Statista)
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have laws to prohibit housing discrimination on the base of sexual orientation and nineteen of them also include gender identity. There have been very few complaints filed by members of the LGBT community of violation of these laws (3 per 100,000 of the LGBT population). This is slightly less than the 5 per 100,000 for racial housing discrimination.
There are somewhat higher numbers of complaints in some states such as Iowa and Massachusetts.
While all of this might sound OK, the bottom line is that the percentage of LGBT house buyers is lower than for other groups: only 49% of this community are homebuyers, compared to 64% of the general population.
My goodness, this is starting to sound very gloomy!
But before we move on to happier things, we cannot ignore the issue of homelessness.
Perhaps we should pause here. There are some unfortunate social implications of the housing statistics:
27. Sky-high housing costs are a significant factor in California’s housing crisis statistics
While there are significant personal factors that lead to people becoming homeless, research is showing a strong correlation between higher median rent and house prices and homelessness.
It is probably not surprising, then, that states with the highest home prices, like California, have homelessness statistics that are significantly higher than elsewhere.
28. Homelessness statistics in California are up to 5 times the national average
US Dept of Housing and Urban Development(HUD)
(Sacramento County PIT Homeless Count)
According to a HUD report, 17 out of every 10,000 people in the USA experienced homelessness on a single night in January 2018.
Here’s the kicker:
These were the numbers for homelessness in various California counties in 2018:
– 91 per 10,000 residents in San Francisco County
– 58 in Los Angeles County
– 50 in Santa Clara.
In Sacramento, where the figure is 36 per 10,000 residents, a $100 million trust fund has been set up to deal with their part of California’s housing crisis.
And here’s a sobering thought:
29. A 5% rise in rental prices in Los Angeles would lead to an additional 2,000 people on the streets
Research is showing a strong link between homelessness and rising rents in Los Angeles, Washington, DC and Seattle. The estimate was that a rise of 5% in rental prices in Los Angeles would lead to an additional 2,000 people on the streets.
Wow – those numbers don’t make for happy reading!
One bit of good news: Despite these findings, US cities are not the most expensive in the world for residential property – so here are the last two housing statistics:
Most Expensive Housing Markets Worldwide
Housing statistics by city have shown how expensive housing is in major metros, especially in California, Massachusetts and DC. But New York takes the top spot.
30. New York is the most expensive city in the US for residential property
While New York may not be the most expensive in the world, certain parts of it are pretty pricey compared to other cities in the US. For example, $200,000 in 2018 would have bought only 126 square feet in Manhattan. You could have bought a 1,818 square foot home in Las Vegas for the same price.
The median price for a new two-bedroom unit in Manhattan was $2,68m. Even in Brooklyn, which is a working-class neighborhood, a 2 bedroomed unit was $1.61m. A studio apartment in Brooklyn in Q1 of 2018 was in the region of half a million dollars!
But there are places in the rest of the world that are even more expensive:
31. Global housing statistics show that residential property in Hong Kong is $2,091 US per square foot.
In 2018 the average price of residential property in Hong Kong was $2,091 US per square foot. This makes it far and away from the most expensive market in the world.
Singapore is next at $1,063, Paris at $985 and London at $776. Surprisingly, the next three are all in China – Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing.
New York just scrapes into the top ten at number eight!
So, There You Have It
Real estate housing statistics are showing that the US housing market seems to have recovered from the 2008 crash. However, the costs are rising, putting pressure especially on lower-income groups, driving the rental market and, unfortunately, homelessness.
Hopefully, this list did more than just throw housing statistics at you! Perhaps you will go away with a better understanding of the US housing market, you will continue to follow it and you will know what to look for if you are part of it.
If you’ve read all the way to the end – well done! And if you’re surprised that you did, let us know.
- US Census
- US Census Bureau
- Apartment List
- US Census
- US Dept of Housing and Urban Development
- Sacramento County PIT Homeless Count
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