fbpx

Homeownership in the 2010s: Tracking Home Price Growth in America’s Largest Cities

Key Takeaways:

  • The 2019 national median resale price was $275,000, rising 35% over the course of a decade.
  • Homes over $2 million resold with the highest price increase — 40%.
  • Large urban centers surpassed national price gains across all price ranges.
  • Oakland residents resold at a 113% price surge, while Virginia Beach homeowners lost $26,000.
  • In NYC, Brooklyn led with a 39% median resale price hike, while the Bronx dropped 7%.
  • Boston and Washington, D.C. yielded the highest returns for East Coast homeowners.
  • Home price growth rates in Phoenix and Mesa were among the 10 sharpest in the U.S.
  • Atlanta and Miami prices accelerated most in the $100,000 to $250,000 range.
  • Omaha was the top Midwestern location for homeownership with 19% price growth.

Bookended by the 2008 crash and COVID-19, the decade between 2009 and 2019 was a transformative one for the real estate industry. Curious to see how the housing market had fared between the two most significant, yet wildly different economic downturns in history, we analyzed residential sales across the U.S., putting the largest urban centers in the country into sharp focus. Then, we identified homes that sold in both 2009 and 2019 to pinpoint the most accurate changes in home prices, taking inflation into account, in order to determine the best price ranges for home price appreciation over the past decade, and the best cities for homeownership and home value gains.

Large Urban Centers Surpass National Price Gains Across All Price Ranges

Overall, buying a home in the 2010s was worth it, especially in the majority of large urban centers. Nationally, homes sold at a median resale price of $275,000 in 2019, rising 35% from their 2009 median sale price of $204,000.

In fact, homes over $100,000 resold at a minimum 32% higher price point a decade later, while homes under $100,000 resold at a mere 3% increase — emphasizing the disparity in value gains for lower- and higher-priced, especially luxury, properties. Indeed, homes that changed hands for $2 million and more in 2019 did so at 40% price increase over their 2009 sale price. In actual dollar values, that equated to a $766,000 increase in their median resale price when adjusting for inflation.

Meanwhile, when looking at homes that sold in both 2009 and 2019 in the country’s largest urban centers, sales trends both paralleled and diverged from national trends.

More precisely, homes in large urban centers appreciated in value at a noticeably more accelerated pace than the overall U.S. residential market. For instance, homes in the $500,000 to $750,000 range traded at a 35% increase, compared to the 30% national gain for that category. Even more noticeably, homes in the $100,000 to $250,000 price range resold at a 49% price jump than a decade prior, while nationally that range was up 33%.

Oakland Residents Resell at 113% Price Boom, Virginia Beach Homeowners Lose $26K

As far as home price evolution at the city level, it became clear that West Coast homeowners fared the best. Specifically, of the 10 sharpest home price gains, eight were recorded in western states, with California alone claiming four, including the two highest: Oakland’s 113% surge and Sacramento’s 93%. Phoenix buyers fared third-best nationally, reselling their homes in 2019 at a 78% higher median resale price than a decade prior, which translated to $102,000 gain when adjusting for inflation.

Denver owners came next with a 72% increase in the median resale price of homes purchased a decade prior, which translated into a $164,000 inflation-adjusted gain. Not far behind, San Francisco came in fifth, just barely behind Denver in terms of the rate of increase. Its 71% gain translated to a $539,000 median yield after inflation.

On the other side of the country, Boston was the East Coast’s only representative among the 10 sharpest median resale price gains in the country. Tied at #9 with Seattle homeowners with a 51% increase, Boston homeowners who purchased in 2009 resold their homes in 2019 for an inflation-adjusted gain of $271,000.

Chart representing the cities with10 highest home price gains in the U.S.

The Eastern U.S. also provided two of the four cities where owners who bought in 2009 sold at a loss in 2019, joined by two Midwest locales. In particular, Virginia Beach, Va., led both in percentages and in actual dollar amount, with sellers trading their homes at a median 9% below 2009 levels, resulting in a loss of $26,000 when adjusting for inflation. In the Bronx, sellers fared somewhat better, but homes here still sold for a median $246,000 in 2019 — 7% below 2009 levels — which translated to an inflation-adjusted loss of $17,000.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee homeowners who bought homes in 2009 resold them at a loss a decade later as well, with the city’s 5% median resale price contraction resulting in a $7,000 loss after inflation. Milwaukee’s depressed housing trends were consistent across all price ranges, with negative growth registered for all ranges below $1 million. Notably, there were next to no residential property sales in Milwaukee that were above the $1 million mark that sold in both 2009 and 2019.

A slightly positive bright side for Milwaukee residents were those who sold in the $750,000 to $1 million range. They did so at a mere 1% loss, with their rate of depreciation increasing at an inversely proportional rate to the median.

Chart with the four large cities where homeowners sold at a loss in 2019

Further south in Chicago, homes bought in 2009 sold in 2019 at a $12,000 loss when adjusting for inflation. This followed a 4% contraction, a drop that would have been more significant had it not been for the city’s upper residential segment — especially its pricey downtown core. Here, homes that traded for more than $750,000 in 2019 generally did so at higher price points than a decade prior.

To that end, Chicagoans who sold their homes in the $750,00 to $1 million range fared the best, selling at a 6% increase compared to 2009. They were followed by those who traded their homes for more than $2 million, with a 5% uptick in pricing.

In contrast, Omaha was the Midwest’s top performer. Homes in this area traded at a $184,000 median resale price — up 19% over 2009 levels and netting owners close to $29,000 post-inflation.

Boston & D.C. Yield Highest Returns for East Coast Homeowners

While Boston proved to be the best East Coast location to own a home in the 2010s, the city-wide 51% increase in its median resale price translated unevenly across different price ranges. For example, homes that traded between $250,000 and $500,000 did so after an 87% surge over 2009 levels, making it the best price range for sellers in terms of price growth rate.

But when it came to actual dollar value increases, Boston’s top price range was for homes more than $2 million.  These owners sold for a $2.44 million median in 2019 — 44% higher than 2009 — for an inflation-adjusted gain of $747,000.          

Similarly, the eastern seaboard’s next-highest home price gains were recorded by Washington, D.C. and Brooklyn. In the nation’s capital, the 42% price jump meant that 2019 sellers traded their homes at a $575,000 median resale price — resulting in a $171,000 gain after inflation — while Brooklyn owners pocketed $187,000 after inflation. This was the result of Brooklyn’s 39% median resale price growth, the highest rate of increase of all NYC boroughs.

Chart with East Coast cities' home price evolution

100 miles south, Philadelphia saw homes bought in 2009 for a median $183,000, resell at a median $236,000 a decade later, marking a 29% increase in the median resale price. And, unlike Boston, Philadelphia recorded mostly double-digit gains across all price ranges. The highest increase was observed by sellers in the $500,000 to $750,000 and $750,000 to $1 million categories, both of which traded in their homes for 26% more in 2019 than what they fetched just a decade prior.

Not far behind, owners who sold in the $100,000 to $250,000 range sold for 25% more in 2019 for an inflation-adjusted gain of $35,000. And those who sold their homes for more than $2 million did so at a 23% higher median than they did in 2009, for a post-inflation gain of $404,000.

Baltimore, on the other hand, presented a mixed bag. At the city level, housing stock purchased in 2009 for a median sale price of $175,000, resold a decade later at a mere 2% price increase — up just $4,000 after taking inflation into account. In fact, Baltimore was the last large urban center among the most populous in the U.S. to register gains, and those gains were largely fueled by mid-priced homes.

NYC Owners Resell at 24% Increase, Brooklyn Residents Log 39% Price Hike

New York City remained synonymous with expensive real estate, with its fastest-appreciating borough, Brooklyn, recording a 39% price — going from a 2009 median sale price of $483,000 to a $670,000 resale median in 2019. As such, Brooklyn claimed the third-highest price increase among the largest urban centers on the East Coast, outpaced by Boston and Washington, D.C. To be precise, Brooklyn residents who bought a home in 2009 resold it a decade later for a $670,000 median, that ended putting $187,000 in owners’ pockets after adjusting for inflation.

Delving deeper into pricing ranges, Brooklyn owners of properties priced above $1 million fared the best overall: Those who sold their homes for $1 million to $2 million did so at a median resale price that was 55% higher than 10 years prior for a $489,000 inflation-adjusted gain. However, sellers in the $2 million and above range nearly doubled their money, selling at a $2.8 million median — a whopping 92% surge that resulted in a $1.34 million gain after inflation.

Meanwhile, Queens homes were bought in 2009 at a median of $274,000 and then resold at a $360,000 median a decade later. This equated to a 32% price increase that left owners with $86,000 after taking inflation into account.. Delving into different pricing ranges across the borough’s housing stock, the lowest growth rate was observed for homes priced below $250,000, which sold for an 18% higher median in 2019 than they did in 2009.

Chart & Map with NYC boroughs and their home price growth

While fellow boroughs Manhattan and Staten Island also yielded net gains, growth here was more sluggish. Specifically, owners who sold in 2019 did so with a mere 16% price increase over 2009 medians — marking the same growth rate as Minneapolis. In Manhattan’s case, that 16% price difference netted sellers $135,000 after adjusting for inflation . For Staten Island homeowners, it translated into a $59,000 inflation-adjusted gain, while Minneapolis owners pocketed $33,000 after inflation.

In particular, Manhattan homes in the $1 million to $2 million price range sold for 25% more in 2019 than a decade prior, netting their owners $290,000 post-inflation. However, in sheer dollars, sellers above $2 million did best, trading their homes at a $2.97 million median resale price in 2019, up 14% over 2009 figures. That growth translated into a $359,000 inflation-adjusted gain for sellers.

Conversely, Bronx owners fared least advantageously in NYC. They sold for 7% less in 2019 than 2009 for a $17,000 loss when adjusting for inflation. That decline in home prices was fueled by price contractions in low- to mid-range properties. More precisely, homes priced $250,000 to $500,000 changed owners for 4% less in 2019 than they did in 2009, while those priced $100,000 to $250,000 fetched 9% less. By comparison, Bronx owners who sold between $500,000 to $750,000 in 2019 did so for 10% more than what they paid in 2009, netting $54,000 after adjusting for inflation.

All in all, had NYC been considered as whole, its price growth would have clocked in at 24% overall — tying it with Charlotte for #23 among the country’s top urban centers.

Chart with NYC hoe price evolution broken into different price ranges

Oakland & Sacramento Owners Double Their Money as California Market Continues Surge

On the opposite coast, California’s surging housing market meant that those who bought homes in 2009 overwhelmingly sold for a profit a decade later.

For instance, Los Angeles owners sold their homes for a $640,0000 median resale price in 2019 — a 43% price increase over 2009’s median of $446,000. Homes in the $250,000 to $500,000 price range performed best, reselling in 2019 at a stunning 71% price increase for an inflation-adjusted gain of $170,000. And, although the growth rate for Los Angeles properties selling for more than $2 million was a more modest 53%, this price range netted the highest return in absolute dollars, netting owners $1.03 million after taking inflation into account.

LA’s growth may have outpaced its East Coast rival NYC, but it was still outstripped by Silicon Valley heavy-hitters like San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland, all three of which ranked among the six fastest-appreciating markets with median resale price gains of 70% and more. Other California cities experienced significant price growth too: San Diego owners saw their homes sell at a slightly sharper, 45% price increase than those in LA, with homes in the $100,000 to $250,000 price range reselling at a dizzying 168% surge over 2009 figures.

Chart with California cities' home price growth

In Sacramento, all price ranges above $100,000 netted significant gains, making this the #2 fastest-appreciating market among the country’s top urban centers with a 93% surge in the median resale price. In particular, properties in the $100,000 to $250,000 increased in value at the fastest pace, reselling in 2019 for a whopping 160% more than a decade earlier, for a $145,000 increase, post-inflation. As a result, Sacramento’s overall 2019 median resale price rose to $299,000 from its 2009 median of $155,000.

Sunbelt Rising: Home Price Growth in Phoenix & Mesa Among 10 Sharpest in U.S.

California may have led in terms of price increases, but the Sunbelt also made a name for itself with significant price increases — reconfirming the surging popularity of Sunbelt cities in the 2010s, especially among young professionals.

Specifically, Phoenix’s 78% price surge netted $144,000 for owners who bought in 2009 and sold a decade later, making this city the third-best nationally for homeownership in the last decade. In fact, Arizona’s most important urban center recorded significant gains across all price ranges, fueled by a 149% increase for homes sold between $100,000 and $250,000. After adjusting for inflation, that surge netted Phoenix homeowners close to $120,000. At the same time, properties that sold between $1 million and $2 million did so with a 135% median resale price increase over 2009 levels, which translated into an inflation-adjusted gain of $604,000.

Mesa, Ariz., also proved the Sunbelt’s growing popularity, with its 58% increase placing it at #8 nationally for pricing gains. Here, too, price increases registered by homes sold between $100,000 and $250,000 fueled much of that increase, reselling for 85% more in 2019 tan they did a decade prior. They were joined by the 47% gain experienced by homes that resold in the $250,000 to $500,000 price range.

Charlotte, N.C. too was lifted by the same two price ranges as Mesa. And while Charlotte, was only #23 nationally with 24% increase in the median resale price, that figure still tied it with NYC in terms of pricing growth rates. Its median resale price was significantly lower of course, coming in at $237,000 in 2019 from $190,000 in 2009.

Atlanta & Miami Price Boom Accelerates Most in $100K-$250K Range

Atlanta ranked just ahead of Charlotte, with its 28% increase tying it with Columbus for #22. Atlanta homeowners sold their 2009-bought homes for a $398,000 median resale price in 2019, for an inflation-adjusted gain of $88,000.

Even so, homes that sold in the $100,000 to $250,000 price range fared best, recording a 45% price increase over 2009 figures, worth $62,000 post-inflation. In terms of absolute dollar amount, properties in the $750,000 to $1 million price range performed best, with their 23% median resale price increase netting owners $155,000 after adjusting for inflation.

Chart with East Coast cities' home price evolution

In Miami, as well, the fastest-appreciating stock was homes in the $100,000 to $250,000 price range, with owners selling at a 58% higher median in 2019 than a decade prior, resulting in a $69,000 inflation-adjusted gain. Yet, in terms of actual dollars, it was homes priced between $1 million and $2 million in 2019 that generated the largest gains for owners, with this range’s median appreciating 37% for an inflation-adjusted increase of $340,000. As a result, Miami placed #15 nationally for home price growth in the 2010s with a 38% median resale price expansion.

hart with Miami's home price evolution across price ranges

Overall, buying a home in 2009 was an advantageous move for most — especially in large urban centers, where tight housing markets, limited supply and growing urban density ensured that most owners sold at a profit in 2019. Smaller cities that have grown in popularity over the last decade, especially as new destination cities for young professionals, fared well, too. This was even more true for buyers who got in on the ground with starter homes, whose sale prices often grew at dizzying rates that even reached three figures.

Disclaimer

Information provided in this article is purely informational. It is not, and should not be regarded as investment advice.

Methodology

For this study, we considered all homes across the U.S. that sold both in 2009 and in 2019, taking into account single-family, two- to four-family, condo, co-op, townhouse, rowhouse, modular/mobile and other residential properties. Multi-parcel properties and package deals were excluded.

We included the 34 largest U.S. cities by population, excluding Albuquerque, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Louisville/Jefferson and Raleigh due to incomplete sales data. Additionally, all Texas locations were eliminated due to the state’s non-disclosure status. All cities included in the study had a minimum of 50 transactions per year and 15 transactions per price range. New York City was split into its five boroughs, with all five boroughs considered separately. As a result, our ranking has 38 entries.

2019 median resale prices were adjusted for inflation using the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator. All price differences between 2009 and 2019 figures take into account this adjustment.

Eliza Theiss

Eliza Theiss

Eliza Theiss is a senior writer reporting real estate trends in the US. Her work has been cited by CBS News, Curbed, The Los Angeles Times, and Forbes among others. With an academic background in journalism, Eliza has been covering real estate since 2012. Before joining PropertyShark, Eliza was an associate editor at Multi-Housing News and Commercial Property Executive. Eliza also writes for CommercialEdge. Reach her at [email protected]