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LendingTree Reveals the Most Valuable Cities in America

American households own $29.2 trillion of residential real estate, a significant part of the $107 trillion in household net worth in the United States. Financial assets add $87.7 trillion to household net worth and consumer durable goods add $5.7 trillion. Debts, including mortgage debt, subtract $15.4 trillion from Americans’ household net worth.

Real estate wealth is not evenly distributed across the country and is largely concentrated in large cities. But it begs the question: What are the most valuable cities in America?

LendingTree analyzed the total value of residential real estate in American cities. The real estate values come from the My LendingTree property value database, which is a collection of real estate data of more than 155 million U.S. properties. The total value of residential real estate in the database was $32.6 trillion, close to the Federal Reserve’s estimate of total residential real estate value of $32.9 trillion. 

For comparison, the total value of issued corporate equity (stocks) in the U.S. is $49.6 trillion. We compared each city to the U.S. stock market to find the company that most closely matched its value. We also compared the total value of residential properties in each city to the GDP of countries around the world.  

Of course, the comparisons are not apples to apples: GDP represents a single year’s output while the value of homes persists year after year (mostly upward and a few times declining). Cities represent the sum of individually-owned properties while stocks are the exact opposite: fractional ownership of a single company. Nonetheless, we paired up cities with their equivalent country GDP and company stock market values to get a sense of value.

Key findings

  • New York has the most valuable real estate in the U.S. at $2.8 trillion — slightly more than the entire GDP of the United Kingdom for 2019. In fact, this is greater than the GDP of all but just five countries — India, Germany, Japan, China and the United States. The value of New York is comparable to the combined market value of tech giants Apple and Microsoft.
  • Los Angeles is second at $2.3 trillion, close to the GDP of Italy and the combined value of Amazon and Alphabet (the parent company of Google).
  • San Francisco is third at $1.3 trillion, approximately the same as Mexico’s GDP and the value of Microsoft. 
  • These three markets are the only cities above $1 trillion, and value falls rapidly from there. Cities after 15th-ranked Riverside, Calif., are all valued under $500 billion and under $200 billion after 29th-ranked St. Louis. 
  • The Federal Reserve values total residential real estate owned by households at $32.9 trillion. We found that the top 10 cities account for nearly 36% of that value. The top 50 add up to about 66% (or two-thirds) of the total. 
  • Our top 50 is rounded out by New Orleans, Naples, Fla. and Salt Lake City, with real estate values comparable to the GDPs of Ecuador for New Orleans and Slovakia for Naples and Salt Lake City. Their company equivalents are General Electric, Starbucks and Qualcomm. 
  • Although our list shows the top 50 cities, we calculated the value of every metro area in the U.S. The least valuable metro was Battle Creek, Mich., with real estate valued at $989 million. 

Most valuable cities in America

1. New York

Total residential real estate value: $2.8 trillion

Median home value: $501,000 

Country equivalent, GDP: United Kingdom, $2.7 trillion

Company equivalent, market value: Apple + Microsoft, $2.8 trillion 

 

2. Los Angeles

Total residential real estate value: $2.3 trillion

Median home value: $668,000 

Country equivalent, GDP: Italy, $2.1 trillion

Company equivalent, market value: Amazon + Alphabet + AT&T, $2.3 trillion 

 

3. San Francisco

Total residential real estate value: $1.3 trillion

Median home value: $959,000 

Country equivalent, GDP: Mexico, $1.3 trillion 

Company equivalent, market value: Microsoft, $1.4 trillion 

 

4. Chicago

Total residential real estate value: $906 billion

Median home value: $245,000 

Country equivalent, GDP: Netherlands, $902 billion

Company equivalent, market value: Alphabet, $994 billion 

 

5. Washington, D.C.

Total residential real estate value: $826 billion

Median home value: $455,000 

Country equivalent, GDP: Saudi Arabia, $779 billion 

Company equivalent, market value: Microsoft, $994 billion

 

Methodology

To determine the total value of cities, LendingTree looked at home value figures pulled in January 2020 from the My LendingTree property value database. The database includes estimated home values for more than 155 million properties in the U.S. based on public tax, deed, mortgage and foreclosure data, as well as proprietary local data used to power home financing recommendations for My LendingTree users. The total value of real estate in metropolitan areas in the database was $32.6 trillion, close to the Federal Reserve’s estimate of total residential real estate value of $32.9 trillion. GDP data was taken from the IMF’s World Economic Outlook published in October 2019. Stock market values were pulled in February 2020 from S&P.

 

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