Cost of living remains a concern for many Americans as home prices per square foot continue to surge across multiple states.
In order to determine if Americans are actually paying more for more space, Home Bay examined how the price per square foot of homes has evolved over time by analyzing evolving price-per-square-foot metrics using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Realtor.com.
By doing so, Home Bay was able to discern how affordability has shifted over time, drawing parallels with the 2007–2008 financial crisis and highlighting the drastic difference between now and the 1980s. Through this research, Home Bay aims to provide insights into the relationship between housing costs and the size of homes Americans can actually afford.
The median sale price per square foot for new single-family homes across the U.S. has increased 368% since 1980, which jumped from $41 to $192. However, when adjusted for inflation, the median sale price per square foot for new single-family homes in the U.S. has only increased 32% since 1980—a jump from $146 to $192. When looking at the difference in home sizes over the years, the median square footage of new single-family homes in the U.S. increased 52% from 1980 to 2022, growing from 1,650 square feet to 2,383 square feet.
To help Americans find the most “bang-for-your-buck” cities when it comes to cost of living, Home Bay also compared the 50 most populous metro areas and ranked them according to price per square foot using data through June 2023.
In Phoenix, home prices per square foot increased 62% over the past five years—the sixth-largest change in price per square foot from 2018 to June 2023. The median price per square foot in Phoenix jumped from $162 in 2018 to $263 in 2023, which puts Phoenix at No. 16 for having the 16th-highest price per square foot out of the 50 biggest U.S. metros.
Additionally, the median square footage for Phoenix homes in 2023 is 2,050 square feet. According to the study, there hasn’t been a significant decrease in square footage for Phoenix homes over the last five years, which means homebuyers aren’t paying more money for less space as seen in Charlotte and New York, which saw the largest decreases in square footage.
Read Home Bay’s complete study here.