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Average Cost of a Home in the United States

written by: BStone•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 8/9/2010

You may know how much you paid for your house or how much you want to pay for your dream home, but what are the average national prices? Learn the answer to the question, what is the average cost of a home in the US?

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    new home In some areas of the country, half a million for a new home is not unreasonable. In other places $200,000 will buy a really nice house. Prices do vary from region to region, but a look at all data will produce that magic number that says so much about the state of the housing market. So, exactly what is the average cost of a home in the US?

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    What Does Average Mean?

    Why is this figure so important? What exactly is the average number? The average home price is determined by adding together all new home prices, in the US, for example, and then dividing by the number of homes counted to create the figure. This number is a valuable piece of information for a number of reasons.

    First, for the individual it is a way to compare their home price to the national average of what new homes are going for, as well as to make a more realistic judgement about the expectations and value for the sale or purchase of a new home. Say for example, you paid $150,000 for your home, and the national average was $300,000. As long as you love your home you may feel that your locale's house prices are quite reasonable. You may also have trouble selling your home and moving to a more expensive region. If you purchased a moderately-sized home that needed renovations for $420,000, then you may realize that prices in your location are much higher than in other areas. What a great advantage when it comes time to sell your expensive home in the city to purchase an incredible house in the country and still have $100,000 left over! On the other hand, a price two to three times over the national average for a normal house may be an indicator that the value of the house could drop over time rather than increase.

    The average house price, especially when compared to previous years, is very telling. Normally average prices go up each year, showing normal, steady growth. This number reflects what people are willing to and able to pay for homes. When the price increases drastically from one year to the next, this may signify inflated prices that could possibly drop just as quickly. Sharp declines may signify problems with the economy as people are not able to or willing to pay higher prices, nor sell for higher prices.

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    Average Price in the US

    The average cost of an American home purchased in 2009 was $270,900 according to US census data. This is a significant drop from 2008, and an even greater drop from 2007 when the average price was well over $300,000. Let's look at the average cost of new homes in the United States over the past several years:

    • 2009 — $270,900
    • 2008 — $292,600
    • 2007 — $313,600
    • 2006 — $305,900
    • 2005 — $297,000
    • 2004 — $274,500
    • 2003 — $246,300
    • 2002 — $228,700
    • 2001 — $213,200

    Going back even further, in 1990 the average cost of a new home was less than $150,000, in 1980 it was $76,400, and in 1970, $26,600. For 2010, average prices started out at $283,400 for January, but were only $249,500 for the month of April.

    Now that you know what the average cost of a home in the US is you can either feel great about the wonderful deal you got on your home, or happy about the real estate investment you have made (as long as prices do not go down in the future).

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    References

    US Census <www.census.gov/const/uspriceann.pdf>

    photo by Lori and the Bell Jar (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/lucy1965/4662629199/sizes/m/in/photostream/>