News Column

Home Values Hold Steady in Small Counties

November 13, 2013

Staff Reports --

ranch house
Home values held steady in small counties across the country (file photo)

Median home values held steady in small counties across the country but dipped in large ones, according to a new housing brief from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The brief, "Home Value and Homeownership Rates: Recession and Post-Recession Comparisons From 2007-2009 to 2010-2012," used the American Community Survey's three-year estimates to focus on homeownership rates and home values for smaller areas.

The small-area statistics from the ACS show that, in two-thirds of counties with populations between 20,000-65,000, the median home value in the post-recession period was statistically the same as during the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

By contrast, the median home value in 43 of the country's 50 biggest counties declined by $17,300 during the post-recession period to $174,600.

The ACS is the sole source for assessing how key housing indicators in smaller counties stack up to the country as a whole, Arthur Cresce, an assistant division chief with the Census Bureau's Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division, said in a bureau news release.

"The (ACS) statistics are important because local businesses, local governments as well as homebuyers and renters can use it to make informed investment, policy and personal decisions," he said.

Other statistics covered in the brief include educational attainment, employment, commuting, language spoken at home, nativity and ancestry.

Homeownership rates

The U.S. homeownership rate declined by 1.7 percent to 64.7 percent in 2010-2012 from the previous three-year period, according to the bureau.

The decrease in the most populous counties from 0.4 percent in Westchester County, N.Y., to 4.7 percent in Maricopa County, Ariz. The rate in the 50 most sparsely populated counties ranged from a decrease of 9.5 percent in Warren County, N.C., to an increase of 8.5 percent in Gonzales County, Texas.

By region and state, the District of Columbia and New York had the lowest homeowner rates, at 41.6 percent and 53.9 percent respectively. West Virginia had the highest homeownership rate at 72.9 percent, but the lowest median home value at $98,300.

Hawaii had the highest median home value, at $503,100 in 2010-2012.

About the survey

The American Community Survey provides statistics about all communities in the country. The Census Bureau is reviewing all questions on the ACS, beginning in fall 2013, and will use data from the three years of the survey to arrive at more accurate statistics for smaller areas.

The bureau's other surveys include the American Housing Survey, the Housing Vacancy and Homeownership Survey and housing-related economic indicators such as New Residential Construction.

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