It's no secret that location is everything in real estate. But when you look at home prices in the vast metropolitan regions that surround America's cities, it becomes strikingly clear that a dollar goes much farther in some places than it ever could in others. While some areas are booming, others aren't. Here's a look at what sellers are asking for a square foot of real estate in some of America's most desirable metropolitan areas, according to Zillow research data.
Median list price per square foot: $71
The median list price per square foot in the Youngstown metro region is the cheapest in the nation, according to data provided by Zillow, yet it's still more than double that of the area's namesake city. In Youngstown itself, the median list price per square foot is just $30, and the median list price for a house in the city comes in at under $40,000.
Median list price per square foot: $79
The price per square foot sellers are seeking in Birmingham is low even by the standards of the state of Alabama, which boasts an already-inexpensive median asking price $99. One of the most important banking and business hubs in the Southeast, Birmingham has a cost of living that's 3 percent less than the national average.
Median list price per square foot: $84
When you exclude the larger metro region, the median home value in Scranton is just $66,400 — and the market is experiencing significant volatility. Home values increased a full 9 percent just last year, but they're expected to fall by 4.1 percent in the coming year.
Median list price per square foot: $88
If you're looking to move to the Topeka Metro area, you can expect to pay less than you would in the state as a whole. The median list price per square foot in Kansas is $115. Reflecting that disparity, the cost of living in Topeka Metro is a full 13 percent below the national average.
Median list price per square foot: $123
You can expect to pay more for the privilege of living in the Atlanta metro region than you would statewide. The average list price per square foot in Georgia as a whole is $114. Metro Atlanta is currently gaining residents at a rapid clip. More than 90,000 people moved there in 2016 alone.
Median list price per square foot: $133
Residents of the Jacksonville Metro region enjoy home prices that are cheaper than they are in Florida overall, where the median list price per square foot is $164. In 2017, Jacksonville took the title of the No. 5 fastest-growing city in the country. The largest city in Florida, Jacksonville has a population of 880,000 people.
Median list price per square foot: $163
Chicago is experiencing a buyer's market, despite the fact that the cold real estate environment is witnessing both historic and projected increases in housing prices. After three straight years of declining population, Chicago is hemorrhaging residents, particularly poorer minorities, who have recently begun fleeing to Southern cities.
Median list price per square foot: $168
Anchorage is geographically isolated, and the weather is harsh. It's one of the most dangerous cities in America, unemployment is high — the jobless rate in Alaska is the worst in America — and both the city and state are in the grip of a biting recession. Predictably, home prices are falling. Zillow predicts negative growth of 0.8 percent next year.
Median list price per square foot: $177
The city of Duluth has a median list price per square foot of $203, which is pricey compared to the larger metro region. The Duluth-Superior Harbor is among America's most significant ports. The cost of living in the area is well below the national average — 12 percent to be exact. The region, however, is losing both residents and jobs.
Median list price per square foot: $184
The median home value in the cool real estate market that is Baltimore Metro is less than $114,000. But even that is steep considering the landscape of the region's chilly buyer's market. Although sellers are listing at a median price of $158,100, they're getting less than $98,000. That could be ripe for change, however, as the area just squeaked into the list of America's 20 most populous metro regions.
SALT LAKE CITY
Median list price per square foot: $199
The first metro region in the country at less than $200 per square foot is Salt Lake City, where the median sale price of a home is $311,700. The market there is warm. Prices rose by nearly 12 percent last year, and they're expected to continue in the same direction, but not at the same frantic pace. Home prices are projected to rise by 3.1 percent in the coming year.
Median list price per square foot: $214
Although prices are rising in already-expensive Miami-Fort Lauderdale, the region is listed as a chilly seller's market. The proof of that lies in what sellers are asking vs. what they're actually getting. The median list price is $350,000, but the median sale price is just $274,200.
Median list price per square foot: $260
Although prices are rising in New York Metro and they're projected to keep rising, Zillow classifies the region as an ice-cold buyer's market. The median home value there is $424,800, which is high compared to the national average, but underwhelming compared to the heavyweight cities that made California's real estate market infamous. Median monthly rent, however, is a crushing $3,000, which is a break from the $3,300 median price the median resident pays in New York City.
Median list price per square foot: $261
Even though Denver's massive population boom has slowed over the last two years, 100,000 new residents decided to call the Mile High City home over the last seven years. With a median home value just a hair under $400,000, the housing market there is still smoking hot. Prices are expected to rise by 5.3 percent in the coming year, which is in addition to the 8.8 percent they rose last year.
Median list price per square foot: $268
Prices are high in Seattle even by the standards of Washington state, where the median list price per square foot is $115. Forbes listed Seattle as the No. 3 best place in America for careers and business, which is likely why the aerospace, defense and clean energy industries have such a big footprint there. The hyper-educated population has a college-attainment rate of 46.2 percent, and the median household income is an impressive $84,288, which doesn't last long in a city with a cost of living that's 27 percent above the national average.
Median list price per square foot: $282
On the other side of the country lies another one of America's hotter housing markets — Boston. Prices there rose by 6.5 percent last year and they're expected to grow at about the same clip in the coming year. The median list price for a house in Beantown is a half-million dollars exactly.
Median list price per square foot: $346
Homes in the hot Boulder housing market list for $110 more per square foot than in Colorado as a whole. It is, after all, a desirable place to live. Unemployment is a miniscule 2.1 percent, the population is growing, the median household income is a high $74,688, and Forbes has ranked the region as one of the country's top 50 places for business and careers.
LOS ANGELES-LONG BEACH-ANAHEIM
Median list price per square foot: $425
Back on the West Coast in the vast and populous L.A.-Long Beach-Anaheim Metro region, the housing market is hot. Prices rose by 8.4 percent last year, and they're projected to rise again in the coming year by another 6.9 percent. The average sale price for a home in the region is $632,000.
Median list price per square foot: $553
Ten of the 11 most expensive metro areas in America are in California — the other is Honolulu. Prices in the Hawaiian capital are expected to rise by 10.1 percent in the coming year alone — and that's on top of the 4.7 percent that prices already rose last year. The median household income in the city is a high $78,309, which residents will need if they're going to be able to afford the cost of living, which is a sky-high 43 percent above the national average.
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA
Median list price per square foot: $679
The already-scorching San Jose Metro housing market is getting even hotter. The median home value there is more than $1.26 million. Housing prices have increased by an astronomical 26.2 percent in just the last year alone, and they're expected to rise another 7.5 percent in the coming year. It's so pricey there, in fact, that the list price per square foot is more than double the notoriously high housing prices in California as a whole. The statewide median price per square foot is $312.