With home prices hovering slightly below record highs and conventional 30-year fixed mortgage rates higher than in years at 6-7%, it’s worth taking a look at the housing market around the United States. How do home sizes and prices vary by state and is there a relationship between the the price of an area and the size of the homes there? To find out, I referenced the 2022 American Home Size Index, generated by American Home Shield, which included data on home size and price per square feet from 474,157 houses and condos listed for sale on Zillow. Below, you can see maps and graphs showing insights from this data. To see the numbers for individual states and cities, click the link above for the index.
How Does Home Size Vary by State?
As you can see, there is quite a bit of variation in median home size, ranging from 1,164 sq. ft in Hawaii to 2,800 sq. ft in Utah. The smallest homes tend to be found in the Northeast, Midwest, and West Coast, and the largest homes tend to be in the West and South. Overall, the median home size in the U.S. is 2,014 sq. ft, and most states fall near the median, as shown below:
A histogram of median home sizes in the U.S. shows that they have a generally normal distribution, with most states (38, or 76%) having median homes between 1,750 sq. ft and 2,250 sq. ft. Broadening the range slightly, 47 states (or 94%) have a median home size between 1,500 sq. ft and 2,500 sq. ft. Only 3 states fall outside that range: Hawaii and New York on the low end and Utah on the high end.
How Do Home Prices Vary by State?
Home prices vary depending on home size, so the easiest way to compare from state to state is by comparing price per area, measured in $/sq. ft. Home prices range from $119.56/sq. ft in West Virginia to $743.86/sq. ft in Hawaii, with an overall median of $203.61/sq. ft. States with more expensive home prices tend to be in the West or Northeast. However, most states tend to have cheaper home prices, as shown below, particularly in the Midwest and the South.
A histogram of median home prices per size clearly shows that the majority of states are at the cheaper end of the price spectrum. 25 states (50%) have a median home price between $100/sq. ft and $200/sq. ft, and 18 more have a median home price between $200/sq. ft and $300/sq. ft. That means 43 states (86%) have median home prices below $300/sq. ft. The more expensive states, starting from the highest priced, are Hawaii, California, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Montana, and Oregon.
Do Homes Tend to Be Smaller in More Expensive Areas?
You might assume that homes in more expensive states would tend to be smaller so that they would be more affordable to the average homebuyer. At first glance, this does seem to be the case. Hawaii and New York have some of the most expensive homes, and they also have the smallest median sized homes. However, if you look beyond these two extremes, the data is a lot less clear. Here you can see median home size plotted against median home price/sq. ft:
As you can see, there does not appear to be a clear trend. Some of the most expensive areas do tend to have smaller homes, but other relatively expensive areas have larger homes. In fact, Utah, the state with the largest median home size, is also the 16th most expensive area. On the other hand, some of the cheapest areas also have some of the smallest homes. For instance, West Virginia, the least expensive area, has the 7th smallest median home size. Overall, it seems like there is no significant relationship between the two variables.
Here are the major takeaways:
- The median home in the U.S. is 2,014 sq. ft and costs $203.61/sq. ft.
- Most states have median home sizes between 1,750 sq. ft and 2,250 sq. ft.
- The largest homes are in the West and the South, and the smallest are in Hawaii, the Northeast, the Midwest, and the West Coast.
- 50% of states have median homes that cost between $100/sq. ft and $200/sq. ft, and 86% have median homes that cost less than $300/sq. ft.
- The most expensive homes are in Hawaii, the West, and the Northeast, and the cheapest homes are in the Midwest and the South.
- Interestingly, there does not appear to be a clear relationship between the price of an area and home size.
Keep in mind that the data shown here are medians for each state, and the housing markets in individual cities may be different from the state they are located in.