Real Estate Price Change in the US

This is an animated map that shows the development of home values throughout the US. Play the button to see the changes from 1996 to 2020. Hover over the counties to get detailed information from each county. For more information scroll down.
Price Change
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Home Value Map

This animated map of Real Estate property prices in the US, shows how home values have increased and changed since 1996.

Home prices were downloaded from Zillow Research. The values are calculated as an index. Fortunately, Zillow had data since 1996 to this year.

To show how the values progressed, the median of each year and each county were determined. Then the percentage of change was established.

Fuchsia shows decreasing values and green shows increasing values compared to the median.

During the first 10 years many counties have a -1% change. This is because there is no available Zillow data for them for that year, but there is, in later years. Nevertheless, until today out of 3,007 counties, 64 parishes, 19 organized boroughs, the data only includes 2844 counties, parishes and boroughs.

Below is a summary of the highest and lowest home values in the USA.

20 Most Expensive Real Estate Counties in the US

  1. Nantucket County, MA: $1,645,332
  2. San Francisco County, CA: $1,404,590
  3. San Mateo County, CA: $1,396,984
  4. Pitkin County, CO: $1,396,984
  5. Marin County, CA: $1,204,552
  6. Santa Clara County, CA: $1,185,233
  7. New York County, NY: $971,125
  8. Teton County, WY: $925,443
  9. Alameda County, CA: $884,988
  10. Dukes County, MA: $858,677
  11. Santa Cruz County, CA: $857,256
  12. Falls Church City, VA: $844,089
  13. Summit County, UT: $771,795
  14. San Miguel County, CO: $766,188
  15. Orange County, CA: $760,724
  16. Arlington County, VA: $752,813
  17. Contra Costa County, CA: $714,857
  18. Honolulu County, HI: $703,116
  19. Napa County, CA: $710,021
  20. Maui County, HI: $703,116

These values are for 2020. East and West Coast are at the lead. This list definitely correlates with the Most Educated Counties of the US.

Most of these counties and metros have common traits sought by home buyers. Beautiful surroundings, highly educated communities, tech hubs, or commercial and business magnets.

Number 1 is Nantucket County. This island and a tourist destination draws thousands of people every summer. Having beautiful natural surroundings and being a historic landmark keeps people coming, and prices rising.

San Francisco County is not just a tech hub. It is one of the most densely populated areas and has the highest earning income in the world. The result is skyrocketing rents and property values.

San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Marin County, Santa Cruz County, Alameda County, Napa County, and Contra Costa County are all close to San Francisco California. Therefore, close to Silicon Valley and home to the world's largest high-tech corporations, plus Berkley University, a research hub. Finding a home in this area requires a large income and a stable job.

Pitkin County Pitkin County enjoys the fourth highest per-capita county income in the United States, and is home of the city of Aspen. Surrounded by beautiful mountains and wilderness it is a Mecca for outdoor lovers, making its homes beautiful but expensive.

New York County is the most populous and most denseley populated county in the US. This plus the fact that it is a global hub of business and commerce makes it a magnet for home buyers.

Teton County contains the Jackson Hole ski area, all of Grand Teton National Park, and 40.4% of Yellowstone National Park's total area. It is also among the most educated counties in the US. Its incredible surroundings make it a hub for real estate investors and tourists alike.

Dukes County is home of renowned Martha's Vineyard! An island known as a popular summer getaway. The main attraction for home buyers is the pleasant summer weather and the beautiful beaches.

Falls Church and Arlington County are close to D.C. and are one of the most educated areas in the country. Therefore, attracting competitive buyers that bring up home prices.

Summit County was a definite surprise. So far, the counties mentioned above are well known for business, technology, commerce, or tourism. Summit County is neither. It is close to Salt Lake City, and has acquired a reputation as an upscale getaway, bringing new development to the area. Wikipedia.

10 Least Expensive Real Estate in the US

Not many lists show the cheapest area in the US, but this map shows everything. It made sense to highlight both extremes. In this case the areas where buying a home is more accessible. These values are also for 2020.

  1. Phillips County, AR: $30,498
  2. Allendale County, SC: $36,006
  3. Leslie County, KY: $36,725
  4. Letcher County, KY: $37,074
  5. Wyoming County, WV: $37,193
  6. Tillman County, OK: $38,741
  7. Jefferson County, OK: $39,249
  8. Harlan County, KY: $41,224
  9. Dallas County, AR: $41,574
  10. Fulton County, KY: $41,996

Low property values are found on rural counties located in the South of the USA.

Real Estate Industry

The real estate industry is a business generating billions of dollars in revenue annually, and it offers many opportunities for entrepreneurs to turn a profit.

Last year there were approximately 210,000 companies operating in the residential brokerage and management field. They generated $200 billion in revenue.

There were 35,000 companies operating in the commercial brokerage and management field, generating $35 billion in revenue.

As displayed in this map Real Estate is a cyclical industry, reacting to macroeconomic trends such as interest rates, population growth, and economic strength.

Real Estate soared in the post-World War II economic boom of the 1950s, sank in the inflation-riddled 1970s, rose again in the early 1980s until the depression at the end of that decade, and was prosperous again by the end of the century. As it will be discussed below, low interest rates in the mid-2000s allowed residential Real Estate to boom even when the economy was slow - until the mortgage crisis hit, and prices collapsed. Source: Franchise Help

Housing Bubble 2008

This animation makes it possible to see the 2008 housing bubble. You can clearly see the rapid change in colors. To make this even more clear and less distracting, there is a 0% change color to the counties that had no data. So counties with undefined% or 0% do not distract the viewer of the changes and trends. To know exactly which counties have missing values, you may hover over them. The data updates with the animation.

In the words of the Balance "The ultimate cause of the subprime mortgage crisis boils down to human greed and failed wisdom. The prime players were banks, hedge funds, investment houses, ratings agencies, homeowners, investors, and insurance companies."

"Banks lent, even to those who couldn’t afford loans. People borrowed to buy houses even if they couldn’t really afford them. Investors created a demand for low premium MBS, which in turn increased demand for subprime mortgages. These were bundled in derivatives and sold as insured investments among financial traders and institutions."

"So when the housing market became saturated and interest rates started to rise, people defaulted on their loans which were bundled in derivatives. This was how the housing market crisis brought down the financial sector and caused the 2008 Great Recession."

Real Estate Forecast

"Housing markets across the United States have proven incredibly resilient to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Home sales have lagged since the outbreak of the virus in March but — more importantly to individual buyers and sellers — home prices have actually risen." But with a persistent virus, forecasters now believe that the pandemic could cause home prices to drop in 2021. Source: Curbed

So far offices are under capacity, retail and hospitality are struggling, but home values. According to Emerging Trends in Real Estate finds that the pandemic is going to continue to drive major changes in the way property is bought, sold, and used. Overall, the impact of the pandemic is broadly, but not universally, negative, the report notes. It states that so far big cities have been the losers, but it is not clear if it will remain that way.

Looking at Zhvi data from 2020, high value areas, still have high property values.

Meanwhile single-family rental housing will increase in demand, particularly in the south. The suburban growth seen over the past five years will continue, as more companies require, allow, or encourage working from home. Already short supplies of affordable housing are likely to be stressed even further as the pandemic continues to create havoc on the economy. Source: Fast Company

Inspiration for a Property Value Map

I have always been interested in Real Estate prices and investment. I am not buying and selling property at the moment, but I definitely like to look at data related to it. My husband, Kevin C. Dunn, recently started working for Keller Williams, as a Realtor in the Fort Walton Beach Area. Since we talk about how home prices around the US increase and where this happens, I decided to make a map to see how they actually progress.

With this map I basically wanted to know: How Real Estate prices have changed? What are the housing market trends? Which are the most expensive areas to buy? Which areas are not prone to housing bubbles? Do Real Estate change the same in the East and in the West Coast? What are the Real Estate Prices near me?

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Resources for Real Estate Map

The counties shapefile, to create this Choropleth map, was downloaded from the US Census Bureau. The code to make an animated choropleth map, was altered from rfdonohue's block.

For this visualization I used the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI): "a smoothed, seasonally adjusted measure of the typical home value and market changes across a given region and housing type". They were downloaded from Zillow Research.

Created using d3.js.

Map of Real Estate price change Animation of of Real Estate price changes