To determine the most expensive towns to buy a home in the nation, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of median owner-occupied home values from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.
We used census “place” geographies — a category that includes 29,573 incorporated legal entities and census-designated statistical entities. Of those, 29,320 had boundaries that fell within one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia.
We defined towns based on population thresholds — having at least 1,000 people and less than 25,000 people — and 13,332 of the places fell within these thresholds.
Towns were excluded if owner-occupied median home values were not available in the 2019 ACS, if there were fewer than 1,000 housing units, or if the sampling error associated with a town’s data was deemed too high.
The sampling error was defined as too high if the coefficient of variation — a statistical assessment of how reliable an estimate is — for a town’s owner-occupied median home value was above 15% and greater than two standard deviations above the mean CV for all towns’ owner-occupied median home values. We similarly excluded towns that had a sampling error too high for their population, using the same definition.
The remaining 8,488 places were ranked based on their owner-occupied median home values. To break ties, we used median monthly housing costs with a mortgage.
In a few cases, median home values were above the boundary for which the U.S. Census publishes precise estimates and instead publishes the boundary ($2,000,000+). To break ties for these areas, we used two additional proxies: median household income as areas with higher incomes are correlated with higher home values, and total housing units as a lower number of housing units implies a smaller supply of homes available if a purchaser wished to live in a given town.
Additional information on median monthly housing costs with a mortgage, the share of owner-occupied housing units that have a mortgage, rates of homeownership, and median household income are also five-year estimates from the 2019 ACS.
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