Many potential American homeowners dream about buying a brand new house, full of modern design elements and technology. Others, despite the risk of repairs, would much prefer an older house, steeped in history and rustic charm.
Depending on where you live, older homes are not only abundant, but they represent the vast majority of housing units in the city. According to data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 30 U.S. cities with a population of at least 65,000 where more than 70% of housing units were built before 1960, compared to about 28% of homes nationwide.
Many of the cities on this list have a large share of older homes because they are legacy cities, known also as Rust Belt cities. These places once thrived on manufacturing or materials production through the middle of the 20th century. By the 1970s, however, these industries began to shed jobs as post-industrial decline swept across the American Northeast, Midwest, and Mid Atlantic.
Today, new homes are rarely built in these cities as demand is low — few people are moving to these cities and the populations are declining. In fact, several of the cities on this list, including Detroit, are among the cities that have lost more than half their populations since 2050.
As it relates to the status of the housing market, the other byproduct of the long-term economic struggles is that homes in these cities are relatively inexpensive. The typical American home has a value of $217,600, but the median home value in many of the cities on this list is less than $100,000.
While many of the cities on this list struggle economically, others are full of wealthy Americans, and while there is relatively little new property being built, the homes that remain are expensive. These are places like New Rochelle, New York, and Somerville, Massachusetts, where the typical home is worth two to three times as much as the typical American home. These places are some of the richest cities in America.