Where is the most expensive real estate in the United States? It depends on how you look at it.
Using home sale prices and data from the state-level, the answer is Hawaii with a median price of $547,600 per home.
However, at a neighborhood level, the answer could be very different. For example, the most expensive neighborhood by median housing price is Presidio Heights in San Francisco ($7 million+ homes in January 2017), and the most expensive neighborhood for rent is West Village in New York City ($6,030 per month for a 1,000 sq. ft place).
Both of these approaches have significant drawbacks. Using state-level data is too broad, and doesn’t account for any distinction between urban/rural areas. Meanwhile, zooming in on a neighborhood is interesting and thorough, but it may be too granular for most purposes. People have a mental picture of San Francisco as a whole, but fewer will be familiar with the nuances of specific neighborhoods like Presidio Heights, Nob Hill, or the Mission District.
(Use the mouse to rotate, pan, or zoom in on the interactive map. (Note: your browser must support WebGL for this to work.)
A Common Denominator?
A county-level analysis may be the easiest to understand, and by using average price per square foot we have a more universal denominator. After all, a house bought in Hawaii might be more expensive than a small loft in New York City – but it might also be 5x the size.
The visualization above focuses in on price per square foot at the county-level – and the results are clear: New York, San Francisco, and Aspen (Pitkin County) stand out.
As Max Galka from Metrocosm notes, New York is instantly recognizable:
The highest point in the map is clearly the tall white spike in the east: Manhattan (New York County), where the average price per square foot is $1,397. But the housing values fall off sharply as you move to the outer boroughs. Across the river in Brooklyn (Kings County), the second most costly area of NYC, the price per square foot is only about a third of what it is in Manhattan.
The Bay Area also stands out, thanks to the unprecedented boom in Silicon Valley over the last 15 years. San Francisco leads the pack because of its cultural appeal, but other places in the Valley are also extremely expensive, relative to anywhere else in America:
Lastly, it is worth noting that Pitkin County in Colorado is one of the other three most expensive U.S. housing markets using this approach. The largest town in the county is Aspen, a popular ski destination, and the county averages a price per square foot of $841.
Article by Jeff Desjardins, Visual Capitalist