Real estate is a lot of things — it’s a great investment, it’s a major engine of the economy, it’s how we build community as well as wealth. But one thing it’s not is exciting — or is it?
Actually, real estate can be downright fascinating if you dig deep enough. From how people feel about living with ghosts, to the most expensive home in the world (valued at $5 billion), to why there are no old houses in Japan, there are plenty of fascinating facts about real estate.
Besides, fascinating is relative! If you’re in the market to buy or sell, there’s nothing more interesting to you than the question of how to choose a realtor, or what companies offer the lowest real estate commission fees, or how to sell your home without a realtor.
Read on for some surprising real estate facts — some fun, some practical.
1. 44% of people claim they’ve lived in a haunted house
This statistic comes from a survey by Real Estate Witch and is especially striking when you consider that 76% of Americans believe in the existence of the supernatural.
2. 73% of people would still consider buying a house they knew was haunted
However, only 52% would consider paying market value for a haunted house.
3. 48% of Americans would rather live in a haunted house than live within a mile of a waste management facility
That percentage stayed remarkably stable when respondents were asked about living with ghosts versus living near the scene of a violent crime (47%), a former meth lab (45%), or within one mile of a prison (44%). Have these people not seen “The Exorcist”?
4. There are nearly 141 million housing units in the United States
With a population of about 330 million, that’s a about 2.3 people per housing unit.
5. A little over one-third of sellers initially try to sell their homes themselves as a “For Sale by Owner” listing
However, only about 10% of sellers actually get their FSBO listing across the finish line; the rest give up and hire a real estate agent.
6. Home values in the U.S. have increased 7.2% over the past three years
Compare this to the stock market, which has returned 13.9% over the past decade. But keep in mind that the stock market is much more volatile than the real estate market — and you can’t live in your stock investments.
7. There are a little less than 44 million renter households in the U.S.
Renters are a little over a third of all households; 64% of households, or around 75 million, are homeowners.
8. Half of rental properties are owned by individual real estate investors
However, corporate landlords are buying up a lot of units. In 2008, 20% of rental units were owned by corporate landlords; today, they own 50% of all rentals.
9. Rents are increasing fast
According to data from Realtor.com, rents skyrocketed 11.5% between August 2020 and August 2021 — the first double-digit rent increase ever recorded.
10. In 2021, average rents rose in 26 states
Louisiana saw the largest increase, as rents rose a whopping 38% in the state.
11. In 2021, average rents fell in 15 states
Illinois saw the largest dip, as average rents decreased by 9.6%.
12. 90% of all millionaires built their fortune through real estate
As the saying goes, they’re not making any more land.
13. The most expensive home in the world? Buckingham Palace.
The queen’s residence is valued at around $5 billion, which is five times the value of the second most expensive home in the world — Antilla, which is located in Mumbai, India, is valued at $1 billion. Antilla has six stories just for car storage and requires a staff of 600.
14. There are no rules against foreign property ownership in Japan
That means anyone, from anywhere, can buy a downtown Tokyo townhouse. (However, keep in mind that Tokyo is one of the most expensive real estate markets on earth.)
15. There are no old houses in Japan
In Japanese real estate, a home loses all its value after 20 or 30 years. When someone moves out, the house is typically demolished, and a brand new home is built on the lot. Experts say this tradition stems from poor quality post-war construction, constantly revised earthquake-proof building regulations, and zero incentive for any home maintenance, as it’ll just be torn down in a few decades.
16. In Scotland, people paint their front door red when they pay off their mortgage
Scotland isn’t the only country with a red front door tradition; in American history, a red front door often symbolized a safe place to stay, and in Chinese feng shui tradition, a red front door wards off evil and attracts luck.
17. Australians have the largest homes in the world
The average Australian home is around 2,500 square feet. American homes, which are the second largest in the world, average around 1,900 square feet.
18. Hong Kong has the smallest homes in the world
On the island of Hong Kong, homes average a cozy 345 square feet.
19. Hong Kong is also the most expensive real estate market in the world
The average home in Hong Kong costs $1.25 million in U.S. dollars.
20. A $50 million mansion in Manhattan is co-owned by five European countries
The swank six-story mansion, formerly the Yugoslavian embassy, is now co-owned by Macedonia, Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia. A recent sale fell through because the bickering countries couldn’t agree on a sale price.
21. 79% of Americans consider homeownership one of their highest goals
Unfortunately, over half of Americans (51%) say they can’t afford to buy a home.
22. The average American moves 12 times in their lifetime
That’s a lot of boxes and masking tape.
23. The average American homebuyer is 47 years old
In 1981, the average homebuyer was only 31 years old, which says a lot about economic trends over the past 40 years.
24. In 2020, 31% of sales were to first-time homebuyers
Although it’s getting more difficult to buy a home, lots of people are finding a way.
25. The average American home seller is 57 years old
That means the average American home sale consists of a 57-year-old selling a home to someone only ten years younger.
26. There are more single female homeowners in the U.S. than single male homeowners
This statistic is even more notable when you consider that, on average, women earn 82 cents for every dollar that men earn.
27. Tampa, Florida, is the U.S. capital of single women homeowners
16.4% of all homeowners in Tampa are single women.
28. California has the largest number of registered realtors in the U.S.
On the other hand, Vermont has the fewest realtors of any U.S. state.
29. The most expensive property ever sold in the U.S. is a $240 million Manhattan penthouse
Located at 220 Central Park South in Manhattan, this penthouse spans the 50th through the 53rd floor of the building and was purchased by a hedge fund billionaire in 2019.
30. The most expensive zip code in America is 94027
No, it’s not 90210. This zip code, located in the Bay Area, has a median home value of more than $7 million.
31. Listing prices have skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic
List prices overall have risen nearly 33% since March 2020; in hotter urban markets such as Dallas and New York, prices have increased even more, by 43%.
32. Active listings have decreased by 53% since the beginning of the pandemic
This partially explains why prices have gone up so much — high demand, low supply.
33. In May 2021, nearly 6 million homes were sold
This represents a staggering 45% increase since May 2020. Housing inventory hasn’t significantly increased over that time, either, suggesting that prices are going to continue to rise.
34. The city with the fastest-growing rents in the U.S. is Stockton, California
Rents in this small California city have risen nearly 29% in a five-year span, compared to a national increase of just over 11%. (Stockton’s precipitous rent increase prompted the city government to pass a rent control ordinance in 2019.)
35. The cheapest U.S. city for renters is Springfield, Missouri
In this mid-sized Missouri city, one-bedroom apartments rent for an average of only $626, or about a thousand dollars less than the national average rent for a one-bedroom apartment.
36. The most competitive U.S. market for homebuyers is San Jose, California
Using the metrics of average credit score, amount of down payment, and mortgage selectivity, San Jose had the most serious, highly qualified buyers. Other cities rounding out the top three are San Francisco, and Raleigh, North Carolina.
37. The least competitive U.S. market for homebuyers is Virginia Beach, Virginia
There was a two-way tie for the second-least competitive market, between Atlanta and Riverside, California. If you’re a highly qualified buyer in one of these cities, you can write your own ticket.
38. Thursday is the best day to list your home
Data shows that homes listed on Thursdays sell for $3,000 more than the list price, on average. Why? The leading theory is this is when serious buyers start compiling their list of open houses for the weekend.
39. 66% of millennials regret buying their home
Buyer’s remorse is real! The top reason cited for their regrets was maintenance and unforeseen expenses.
40. In 2020, homebuyers only took two months to find their dream home
According to statistics, 2020 buyers only looked for eight weeks before purchasing and checked out nine homes — only four of which they viewed in person.
41. Of all generations, Gen Xers buy the biggest and most expensive homes
Gen Xers purchased homes with a median size of 2,100 square feet and a median price of $305,000.
42. In 2020, 62% of home buyers were married couples
Coming in second were single women, who made up 19% of homebuyers. Single men made up 9% of homebuyers, and unmarried couples made up the last 9%.
43. The most expensive state to buy a home is Hawaii
With a median home value of just over $764,000, this island state is the most expensive place in the U.S. to buy a home, narrowly edging out California. (Keep in mind, this average price doesn’t include fees and commissions, which can be substantial.)
44. The least expensive state to buy a home is West Virginia
West Virginia has a median home value of just under $119,000, or about one-sixth of Hawaii’s median home value.