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Cities Where Homeowners Stay Put the Longest

New LendingTree study ranks cities by how long owners have lived in their houses.

A lack of supply has been a persistent buyers’ challenge in the housing market since the financial crisis. There are not enough houses on the market, which has contributed to significant price surges in many cities.

The inventory shortage is often attributed to a lack of sufficient new construction, as many home builders left the industry after the crisis, and increasingly expensive labor and materials have reduced the margins on lower-priced homes. There is also a decreased supply of existing homes available for sale, which accounts for a much larger share of the total housing market than new construction. Many current homeowners are reluctant to move, as risk aversion set in after the crisis. Reduced labor market mobility has also led to less people leaving their homes and, more recently, higher mortgage rates have locked in many current homeowners, as a mortgage on a new home would mean an even higher interest rate.

Whatever the reason, many homeowners have opted to stay in place, but how long they choose to do so varies by location. We set out to assess the variation in the 50 largest cities in America. On average, homeowners have been in their houses for about 7 years, with a high of 7.54 years in Pittsburgh to a low of 6.36 in Las Vegas. The difference may not seem like much, but our research reveals a significant difference in home price appreciation that is related to the average tenure.  

Key findings

  • Cities with shorter housing tenure have greater price appreciation. The top 10 cities had an average tenure of 7.46 years and an average three-year home price appreciation of 12%. The bottom 10, with an average tenure of 6.63 years, have average price appreciation 30%. This suggests that higher housing turnover drives prices upwards, while faster price appreciation could be enticing home owners to sell.
  • The northeast dominates the list of cities with the longest tenure. The top three cities, Pittsburgh, New York and Buffalo are all in the northeast. An additional three northeastern cities are in the top 10 for a total of six.
  • Hot and sunny places have the shortest tenures. The three cities with the shortest tenures — Las Vegas, Phoenix and Austin — are all in warm-weather areas. This reflects high migration rates to those cities, something we looked at in a prior study on where Americans are moving. Denver is the only city in the bottom 10 that experiences a significant winter season.

Cities in America with the longest housing tenure

#1 Pittsburgh

Average housing tenure: 7.54 years
Median value: $153,300
Three-year home price appreciation: 14%

#2 New York

Average housing tenure: 7.53 years
Median value: $440,900
Three-year home price appreciation: 11%

#3 Buffalo, N.Y.

Average housing tenure: 7.50 years
Median value: $148,900
Three-year home price appreciation: 19%
 

Cities in America with the shortest housing tenure

#48 Austin, Texas

Average housing tenure: 6.49 years
Median value: $283,600
Three-year home price appreciation: 30%

#49 Phoenix

Average housing tenure: 6.43 years
Median value: $246,900
Three-year home price appreciation: 25%

#50 Las Vegas

Average housing tenure: 6.36 years
Median value: $250,000
Three-year home price appreciation: 32%
 

50 largest cities ranked by housing tenure

Methodology

To determine the cities with the longest housing tenure, we looked at data pulled in December 2018 from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The data includes median home values that we also included in the study. Our definition of cities is from the Census Bureau’s Core-Based Statistical Area (CBSA) boundaries.

 

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