As far as dream houses go, no two are alike: Some homeowners find old architecture irresistible, others are drawn to slick up-to-date features. While there’s no definite correlation between price and building age to back up this preference, some sources attribute selling costs up to 30% lower for old homes as opposed to newer ones, whereas others claim Americans pay vast amounts of money for frequently unsafe housing precisely because of that age-old charm. As it happens, available listings in certain markets tend to skew toward the older or newer side.
With this in mind, we wanted to take a closer look at markets that offer a wide pool of either old or new options. To gauge the current inventory of old and new homes for sale, we analyzed America’s largest cities with the highest concentrations of listed homes that are more than 50 years old compared to cities where most homes for sale are newly built in the past 10 years. Granted, although there’s no general consensus on what “old” or “new” means, this study defines old homes as those that were built in or before 1970, and new homes as those that were built in or after 2012.
It turns out that, in 17 of the nation’s 50 most populous cities, homes built back when bellbottoms were trendy now make up more than half of the total stock for sale. In contrast, homes 10 years old or newer represent less than 50% in 49 cities — with the sole exception being El Paso, TX. We also found out that:
- 92% of the homes currently for sale in Detroit, MI and 83% of those in Baltimore, MD are at least 50 years old. Philadelphia, PA and Milwaukee, WI boast the third-highest shares of old listings: 76% each.
- The Texas cities of El Paso, San Antonio, and Austin — as well as Oklahoma City — are the only large hubs where new homes built post-2012 make up more than 40% of the stock for sale.
- New York City has the most homes for sale that were built in this past decade (about 4,500), followed by Houston, TX and San Antonio, TX with around 3,500 each.
80%+ of Homes for Sale in Centuries-Old Cities Detroit & Baltimore Are 50+ Years Old
According to the U.S. Census, nearly 40% of homes in today’s United States were built before The Beatles broke up. Clearly, “out with the old” is not something that defines residential listings in the country — particularly in staples like Detroit, Baltimore, or Philadelphia.
For instance, with some of its listings going back to the Gilded Age, Detroit, MI claims the highest percentage of older homes for sale: 92%. This means that around 2,400 of the 2,600 homes that are currently on the market in Detroit were built before 1970. Here, some of the oldest of the bunch — which were built as far back as the turn of the century — are mostly sold for land value.
Likewise, for those set on vintage homes, Baltimore, MD is also bound to deliver. In fact, one of the area’s oldest homes dating back to 1850 (pictured above) just sold last year for $175,000 according to PropertyShark. Today, 83% of the current for-sale stock in Baltimore is comprised of homes completed at least 50 years ago. That’s around 3,200 of all 3,900 current listings. By comparison, just 3% of Baltimore’s current listings were built in the last decade — the same percentage as in Detroit.
Meanwhile, although New York City didn’t make the top half of the list according to shares of old inventory for sale (58%), it actually has the largest number of pre-1970 homes on the market with a cool 16,500. In this regard, NYC is followed by Chicago with 6,100 homes built more than 50 years ago, which represents 51% of its current for-sale stock.
76% of homes for sale in both Philadelphia, PA and Milwaukee, WI are on the older side, but this percentage represents different actual numbers in each city: While 76% translates into around 5,200 vintage homes for sale in Philly, Milwaukee counts almost 1,000. What’s more, just 1% of all homes on the market in Milwaukee are fresh homes built post-2012.
As expected in an iconic city founded in the late 1600s, Philadelphia not only enjoys a heavy concentration of old houses for sale but it’s also home to one of the oldest residences sold recently: A masonry townhouse built in 1725 and sold in 2021 for $296,000.
Amid Construction Boom, the South Boasts Highest Shares of Modern Homes for Sale
While there’s no absolute proof that older homes present lower selling prices, it’s generally thought that the inevitable extra TLC that goes into the upkeep of a vintage home will end up costing you a pretty penny — no matter how affordable the selling price. As such, this is often reason enough for homeowners to consider a newly built home, instead. And, there’s no better place to look for new housing than the southern United States — Texas, in particular.
Nowadays, the Lone Star State tops the list of just about anything construction-related, from the highest employment levels in the field (about 104,000 construction professionals) to one of the most active development markets in the country — both residential and commercial.
Accordingly, six Texas cities make the list of top 20 cities with the highest percentages of new homes for sale completed since 2012. And, while El Paso is the only one that passes the 50% mark of fresh listings on the market, it’s Houston and San Antonio that count the highest actual numbers of new homes for sale in the area with more than 3,300 each. In fact, when it comes to number of listings nationwide, these cities are surpassed by only NYC with 4,500 homes for sale built since 2012.
Seven other Southern cities join the Texas squad with the highest shares of newest homes currently on the market: Oklahoma City, OK; Nashville, TN; Jacksonville, FL; Charlotte, NC; Atlanta, GA; Raleigh, NC; and sunny Tampa, FL.
The contrast between old and new housing has become even more evident as modern homes keep evolving, seemingly splitting homeowners in two: Those who embrace increasingly smarter homes, and those who seek comfort in the familiarity of lived-in residences. As opposed to homes built more than 50 years ago, modern housing comes with smart features and increasingly popular open layouts, while being conveniently situated in live-work-play communities considered more suitable for 21st-century living. And, while it’s true that preferences don’t have to be so black and white, Alexa just doesn’t feel right in a turn-of-the-century manor, now does it?
Check out the table below for the full data on old (>50 years old) and new (<10 years old) stock for sale in the 50 largest U.S. cities included in the analysis:
- We looked at the 50 most populous cities in the United States and analyzed the highest shares of old and new homes for sale.
- The study defines “old homes” as those completed in or before 1970 (at least 50 years ago), and “new homes” as those built in or after 2012 (as recent as 10 years ago).
- We examined active listings from Point2, Redfin, Realtor.com, and Zillow and considered the source with the highest number of listings for sale and pending sale within a city.
- The study was based on all active listings at the time of the analysis (last week of April 2022).
- Active listings refer to non-multifamily options such as single-family homes, townhouses, condos, and co-ops.
- Photos of sold residences courtesy of Google Street View. Sold prices according to PropertyShark.
Fair use and redistribution
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