Homeowners Have Gained $2 Trillion During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Americans Have Gained $2 Trillion in Home Value During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Updated on October 30th, 2020

The value of homes in the U.S. has surged 6.7% to $31.4 trillion since February despite skyrocketing unemployment triggered by the pandemic—further widening the wealth gap in America.

The total worth of U.S. homes rose 6.7% to $31.4 trillion in October from $29.4 trillion in February. This $2 trillion increase eclipses the $1.7 trillion (6.6%) gain that America’s homeowners reaped during the same period last year, when the country wasn’t grappling with a pandemic or a recession.

Home prices have been surging since the summer, even as an economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic has put millions of Americans out of work. This is partly due to a worsening shortage of homes for sale, which has fueled fierce competition among house hunters. Record-low mortgage rates and a wave of migration made possible by remote work have also driven up housing values.

“The surge in home prices during the pandemic has been a financial boon for homeowners, but has put millions of Americans who can’t afford to own homes at a major disadvantage, exacerbating wealth inequality in the U.S.,” said Redfin senior economist Sheharyar Bokhari . “Many renters have missed out on substantial gains that homeowners will be able to use to upgrade to their next home, start a business, send their kids to college, and fund retirement.”

“Soaring prices are also keeping homebuyers on the sidelines,” Bokhari continued. “A lot of folks had been planning to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates to purchase their first home this year, but then lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Many of those people are now back to work, but are still stuck renting because they can no longer afford to buy.”

Relatively Affordable Migration Destinations See the Biggest Gains, In Percentage Terms

The total value of homes in Milwaukee has surged 10.4% to $12 billion during the pandemic, a larger gain in percentage terms than any other major U.S. metropolitan area. Charlotte, NC and Austin came next, up 10.3% and 10.2%, respectively. The other metros that made it into the top 10 were Sacramento (+9.3%), Detroit (+9.2%), Warren, MI (+8.5%), Seattle (+8.4%), Phoenix (+8.2%), Providence, RI (+7.8%) and Pittsburgh (+7.6%).

Five of the top 10 metros—Milwaukee, Charlotte, Detroit, Warren and Pittsburgh— have median home values below the national level ($285,968). A handful of metros on the top 10 list are also popular destinations for homebuyers who are looking to relocate during the pandemic. Nearly 40% of Redfin.com home searches  in Charlotte and Austin in the third quarter came from people in different metro areas. About a third of searches in Phoenix and nearly a quarter in Milwaukee came from users outside those metros. Sacramento had an even higher share (50.1%) of searches from out-of-towners during the period.

Scroll down to see a table that breaks down the findings of this report by the 50 most populous U.S. metro areas.

“If you’re a homeowner or a seller in Milwaukee right now, you’re in a great position. If you’re a buyer, you’re probably having a rough year,” said Brian Callahan , Redfin’s managing broker in Wisconsin. “I’ve never seen so many buyers get priced out of Milwaukee’s housing market. It’s mostly first-time buyers who just don’t have the financial wherewithal to compete with 10 other bidders .”

Milwaukee’s home prices have historically trailed behind those of other midwestern metros, including Chicago, Minneapolis and Madison, WI. As a result, they’ve had more room to grow during the pandemic, Callahan said. Low inventory, strong demand and migration have also propped up prices, he added.

While many Milwaukeeans are leaving the city for the suburbs during the pandemic, at least some of them are being replaced by a flood of people coming from Chicago, Callahan said.

Milwaukee is a smaller, more laidback version of Chicago,” he said. “Chicagoans are coming to Milwaukee because it offers a better lifestyle and more affordable housing, but is still within driving distance of their family, friends and workplaces back home. The typical monthly mortgage payment also isn’t much more expensive than the typical monthly rent, so a lot of folks who are moving here are realizing that they might as well just buy a home.”

In San Francisco, the total value of homes has grown just 1.8% since February, a smaller increase than any other major metro. It was followed by New York, which saw a 2.6% increase, and Miami, with a 3.5% gain. Many people have left San Francisco and New York during the pandemic in search of bigger homes and better value, as they no longer need to travel into the office every day.

Expensive Coastal Cities See the Biggest Gains, In Dollar Terms

Each of the top 50 metro areas has added at least $8 billion in total home value during the pandemic, with pricey coastal hubs experiencing the biggest increases in dollar terms.

Los Angeles homeowners have gained $81.8 billion of additional property value since February—more than any other major metro. In second place was Washington, D.C., with a $57.2 billion gain, followed by Seattle, at $54.7 billion. The other metros in the top 10 were Boston, Phoenix, Oakland, San Diego, Atlanta, Anaheim, CA and New York.

Jacksonville, FL saw the smallest increase, adding $8.2 billion of home value during the pandemic. Cincinnati and Detroit rounded out the bottom three, up $8.4 billion and $8.6 billion, respectively.

Housing Market Summary for 50 Most Populous U.S. Metros

Metro AreaHome Value Growth (%), February 2020 to October 2020Home Value Growth ($), February 2020 to October 2020Total Value of Homes, October 2020Median Home Value, October 2020
Milwaukee, WI10.4%$12.0 billion$127.2 billion$223,261
Charlotte, NC10.3%$27.1 billion$289.6 billion$240,747
Austin, TX10.2%$25.5 billion$276.0 billion$348,359
Sacramento, CA9.3%$30.7 billion$361.1 billion$445,693
Detroit, MI9.2%$8.6 billion$102.6 billion$126,153
Warren, MI8.5%$20.2 billion$257.6 billion$230,902
Seattle, WA8.4%$54.7 billion$703.2 billion$619,478
Phoenix, AZ8.2%$45.6 billion$600.5 billion$314,814
Providence, RI7.8%$14.7 billion$203.0 billion$322,505
Pittsburgh, PA7.6%$11.1 billion$157.4 billion$167,970
Columbus, OH7.5%$11.6 billion$167.0 billion$221,980
Cleveland, OH7.4%$10.3 billion$149.2 billion$159,963
Indianapolis, IN7.2%$10.4 billion$153.4 billion$184,991
San Antonio, TX7.2%$13.2 billion$198.1 billion$216,494
Washington, D.C.7.1%$57.2 billion$866.1 billion$428,826
San Diego, CA7.1%$44.1 billion$668.6 billion$658,219
Tampa, FL7.0%$20.2 billion$308.5 billion$244,925
Denver, CO6.9%$30.6 billion$472.1 billion$446,434
Nashville, TN6.9%$14.9 billion$231.8 billion$298,497
Philadelphia, PA6.8%$12.8 billion$201.4 billion$211,244
Kansas City, MO6.6%$10.4 billion$167.9 billion$205,843
Oakland, CA6.6%$44.9 billion$725.2 billion$821,951
Virginia Beach, VA6.6%$8.9 billion$144.2 billion$248,625
Orlando, FL6.5%$15.1 billion$247.7 billion$259,517
St. Louis, MO6.5%$12.6 billion$207.2 billion$178,275
West Palm Beach, FL6.2%$16.3 billion$278.3 billion$291,063
Atlanta, GA6.1%$37.1 billion$642.1 billion$252,504
Boston, MA6.0%$53.4 billion$945.7 billion$554,098
Jacksonville, FL6.0%$8.2 billion$145.0 billion$238,149
Montgomery County, PA5.9%$15.6 billion$278.5 billion$347,081
Riverside, CA5.9%$30.5 billion$545.3 billion$405,645
Baltimore, MD5.9%$18.5 billion$330.4 billion$290,185
Portland, OR5.9%$20.5 billion$366.8 billion$432,519
Fort Worth, TX5.8%$11.0 billion$199.3 billion$238,427
Nassau County, NY5.6%$31.0 billion$587.7 billion$516,075
Minneapolis, MN5.5%$21.8 billion$416.3 billion$292,459
New Brunswick, NJ5.4%$20.2 billion$391.9 billion$367,658
Dallas, TX5.4%$23.8 billion$465.8 billion$278,973
Cincinnati, OH5.3%$8.4 billion$167.0 billion$192,142
Newark, NJ5.3%$13.3 billion$267.0 billion$391,453
Anaheim, CA4.9%$35.8 billion$761.8 billion$768,963
Houston, TX4.9%$26.1 billion$561.5 billion$223,762
San Jose, CA4.8%$31.4 billion$684.6 billion$1,208,980
Fort Lauderdale, FL4.7%$11.4 billion$251.8 billion$285,496
Las Vegas, NV4.6%$10.6 billion$243.5 billion$298,366
Los Angeles, CA4.3%$81.8 billion$2.0 trillion$687,335
Chicago, IL3.6%$26.6 billion$767.6 billion$275,773
Miami, FL3.5%$13.8 billion$404.8 billion$329,700
New York, NY2.6%$33.4 billion$1.3 trillion$582,317
San Francisco, CA1.8%$12.0 billion$673.1 billion$1,389,513
National—U.S.A.6.7%$2.0 trillion$31.4 trillion$285,968


To determine how much property value American homeowners have gained during the coronavirus pandemic, we calculated the aggregate value of about 78 million U.S. homes as of February 2020 and as of October 2020, using Redfin Estimates of the homes’ market values.

Lily Katz

Lily Katz

As a data journalist, Lily is passionate about helping readers understand complex facets of the housing market. She is particularly interested in the issues of climate change, race and gender equality and housing affordability. Prior to working at Redfin, Lily spent four years as a reporter at Bloomberg News in New York City.

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