Which billionaire could buy your city?

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Which billionaire could buy your city?

Bill Gates Could Buy All 114,212 Homes in Boston, but Couldn’t Afford Seattle; the Walton Family of Wal-Mart Could Buy All of Seattle, Dallas, Miami, Las Vegas or Washington, D.C.

 

Just how rich is Bill Gates? According to Forbes, he’s the world’s richest person and is worth $77.5 billion. But that kind of wealth is hard to wrap your head around, so let’s put it another way: Gates could buy every single home in the entire city of Boston. That’s 114,212 single-family homes, condos and townhouses, at a total purchase price of $76.6 billion.

Given that the average American struggles to afford a home, we wanted to illustrate just how many homes the wealthiest among us could buy. Here’s a table of some of the billionaires on the Forbes’ 400 Wealthiest list, each paired with a city that billionaire could hypothetically buy. For the sake of this illustration, we assumed that wealthy families, such as the Waltons of Wal-Mart and the Koch brothers, would pool their money if they were going to purchase an entire city.

Billionaire /
Wealth Source /
Net Worth
City /
# of Homes /
Cost of All Homes
Walton Family
Wal-Mart
$154.8 billion
Seattle, WA
241,450 homes
$111.5 billion
Koch Brothers
Oil
$86.0 billion
Atlanta, GA
286,629 homes
$78.1 billion
Bill Gates
Microsoft
$77.5 billion
Boston, MA
114,212 homes
$76.6 billion
Warren Buffett
Berkshire Hathaway
$63.5 billion
Charlotte, NC
280,214 homes
$56.1 billion
Michael Bloomberg
Bloomberg LP
$31.8 billion
Anaheim, CA
69,167 homes
$31.4 billion
Larry Page
Google
$30.8 billion
Boca Raton, FL
99,964 homes
$29.5 billion
Jeff Bezos
Amazon.com
$30.5 billion
Napa, CA
57,923 homes
$29.5 billion
Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook
$27.7 billion
Saint Paul, MN
139,124 homes
$26.8 billion
Steve Ballmer
Microsoft
$20.4 billion
Littleton, CO
64,516 homes
$20.0 billion
Phil Knight
Nike
$18.3 billion
Falls Church, VA
37,838 homes
$18.0 billion
Paul Allen
Microsoft
$15.9 billion
Durham, NC
92,290 homes
$15.8 billion
Rupert Murdoch
media
$13.6 billion
Peoria, AZ
60,894 homes
$13.5 billion
Elon Musk
Tesla Motors
$8.8 billion
Centreville, VA
23,789 homes
$8.8 billion
Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren
$7.1 billion
Worcester, MA
44,385 homes
$7.1 billion
Dustin Moskovitz
Facebook
$6.6 billion
Wheaton, IL
21,365 homes
$6.6 billion
Jan Koum
WhatsApp
$6.4 billion
Laguna Hills, CA
10,892 homes
$6.4 billion
S. Truett Cathy
Chick-fil-A
$6.3 billion
Brick, NJ
30,541 homes
$6.3 billion
Charles Schwab
Discount brokerage
$6.0 billion
Spotsylvania, VA
25,925 homes
$6.0 billion
George Lucas
Star Wars
$5.0 billion
Homestead, FL
44,400 homes
$5.0 billion
Donald Trump
Television, real Estate
$3.9 billion
Commerce City, CO
17,527 homes
$3.9 billion
H. Ross Perot Sr
Computer services
$3.6 billion
Dover, DE
24,197 homes
$3.6 billion
Steven Spielberg
Movies
$3.4 billion
Sun City West, AZ
18,934 homes
$3.4 billion
Jerry Jones
Dallas Cowboys
$3.1 billion
Longview, WA
18,645 homes
$3.1 billion
Oprah Winfrey
Television
$2.9 billion
Mokena, IL
10,625 homes
$2.9 billion
Mark Cuban
Online media
$2.6 billion
Forney, TX
13,286 homes
$2.6 billion
Ted Turner
Cable television
$2.2 billion
Jonesboro, GA
28,981 homes
$2.2 billion
Howard Schultz
Starbucks
$2.1 billion
Lake Wales, FL
23,045 homes
$2.1 billion
Meg Whitman
Ebay
$2.0 billion
Winder, GA
19,818 homes
$2.0 billion
Donald Sterling
Real estate
$1.9 billion
Randallstown, MD
10,421 homes
$1.9 billion
Bruce Nordstrom
Department stores
$1.4 billion
Florence, AZ
10,878 homes
$1.4 billion
 

Which billionaire could buy your city map

Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson puts this wealth in perspective:

“In this fictional real estate investment, the 30 billionaires on our list, with a combined fortune of $582 billion, could afford to own a staggering 6 percent of the total U.S. home equity.”

While Bill Gates is the richest single person, several of the Waltons are among the superrich. The family could choose from any of a number of large cities in which to buy up every home, including these 10:

With a $154.8 billion net worth,
the Walton Family (Wal-Mart) could buy…
City Cost of
City’s
Homes
Number
of Homes
Seattle, WA $111.5B 241,450
Dallas, TX $109.4B 330,028
Washington, DC $109.2B 209,092
Miami, FL $92.8B 409,488
Portland, OR $91.8B 289,133
Baltimore, MD $88.8B 597,437
Austin, TX $88.8B 279,912
Las Vegas, NV $86.5B 462,751
San Antonio, TX $85.8B 506,094
Atlanta, GA $78.1B 286,629

These home value numbers are estimates, and these are just hypothetical scenarios, but they do highlight how far a billion dollars can go. If you were a billionaire, or if you are currently, which city would you buy? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook.

Data Sources

If you’re curious what your city or town is worth, or who could afford to purchase your city, download this spreadsheet. The list of billionaires can be found on the Forbes website.

Methodology

The billionaire’s wealth was pulled from the Forbes list on May 15, 2014. We calculated the value of all homes in a city or town by first taking all MLS sales between April 1, 2013 and April 1, 2014. We used those sales as a representative sample of all homes in a city. If 10 percent of homes sold in a city for $1 billion, then we’d estimate the values of all homes in the city are $10 billion. Only single-family homes, condos and townhomes were included. In Texas, home prices were estimated by looking at the list price of homes rather than sale prices.

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