It's no secret that housing prices have been quickly climbing over the past decade -- the median home value in the U.S. is higher than ever before, at almost $220,000, and some markets, like San Jose, Las Vegas and Atlanta, are reporting double-digit annual home value growth in the U.S. Markets .
But understanding what buyers can get for their money, and how homeowners' investments have grown over time, can be tough -- especially when the footprint of homes themselves haven't changed much. To help with this, Zillow Research created a map, released today, that allows users to see just how much a dollar gets you in each market, and how this has changed over time.
For example, one dollar will buy you 1.07 square inches of the typical U.S. home, but ten years ago, one dollar bought you 1.23 square inches. Back in 1998, one dollar bought you 2.09 square inches. For reference, one square inch is about twice the size of a postage stamp, and a dollar bill itself is a little more than 13.25 square inches.
However, in the city of San Jose, where the typical home is worth almost 84 percent more than it was twenty years ago, one dollar will buy you just 0.20 square inches of a home. In 2008 it bought you 0.37 square inches, and back in 1998, one dollar bought you almost one full square inch.
Your dollar will go the furthest in Memphis, Tenn., buying more than 2.5 square inches of a home. Expect to get the smallest amount of space for your dollar in San Francisco, where one dollar will buy you just 0.14 square inches.
Fresno falls almost exactly in the middle of Memphis and San Francisco for the space you can get for one dollar, where it will buy you 0.97 square inches of a home.
"A dollar today isn't what it used to be, particularly when it comes to real estate in light of the rapid pace of home-value appreciation that the American economy has witnessed over the past half-decade," said Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas. "A dollar gets you about 20 times more space in an affordable market like Memphis than in a pricey place like San Francisco. Figuring out exactly how much space a dollar does – or doesn't – buy you can be sobering, but enlightening. The space we live in is a tangible thing, with real value, and this shows how true that is."
Home values across the country rose 8 percent over the past year, and Zillow is forecasting them to appreciate another 6.8 percent over the next 12 months. Over the past year, home values in the cities of Baltimore, San Jose, Las Vegas and Dallas appreciated the most.