Zillow: U.S. Home Values Gained $1.1 Trillion, Renters Paid Record $535 Billion in 2015

U.S. homes nationwide grew by $1.1 trillion in value in 2015, ending the year at $28.5 trillion, reported Zillow Inc., Seattle.  

The company said the value of the entire housing stock grew by 4.1 percent over the past year, slower than the 6 percent growth in 2014. It noted, however, that the total value of all homes has regained $5.3 trillion since hitting its lowest point during the housing bust in December 2011, but remains $782 billion below the bubble peak value of $29.2 trillion reached in October 2006.  

“This reminds us of the large role housing plays in the overall economy,” said Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell. “Total home value growth slowed this year, but there was still a significant increase in overall value, and many markets are more valuable than they’ve ever been.”  

Gudell noted the dollar amount itself underscores the significance of housing to the U.S. economy. In the third quarter, U.S. gross domestic product totaled $18.1 trillion, $10 trillion less than the total value of U.S. housing stock.  

The report also noted wide geographical disparity, with California, home to 12 percent of the U.S. population, accounting for nearly a quarter of the country’s total home value, driven by highly valued markets such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.  

The report also looked at rents, noting Americans shelled out nearly $20 billion more in rent in 2015 than in 2014 as people around the country set up 1.8 million new renter households and median monthly rents rose at a record pace. In all, renters spent $535 billion on rent in 2015; in 2014, they spent $516 billion.  

Zillow said renters of single-family homes and apartments spent the same amount on rent this year, with apartment renters paying $239 billion and single-family home renters paying $245 billion.  

Renters in the New York/northern New Jersey metro area spent the most on rent in 2015–$56 billion. Los Angeles-area renters spent nearly $35 billion, while San-Francisco renters spent $17 billion. Nearly two-thirds of the total rent paid in 2015 was spent in the 50 largest metros.  

“Americans are spending a lot of money on housing, and that will make affordability an important issue [this] year,” Gudell said.  

Zillow’s November Real Estate Market Report said home values rose 3.9 percent annually in November to $183,000. Denver home values grew fastest for the 10th consecutive month at 15.5 percent annual appreciation. Miami joined Dallas, San Francisco, San Jose, and Portland as other metros seeing double-digit growth.  

The report said rents also continued their steady climb, growing 3.8 percent annually to $1,382. The pace of rental appreciation has slowed over the past four months. Only San Francisco and Portland saw rents grow at a double-digit pace, as Denver and San Jose slipped back into single-digit growth.