California News

Smaller homes at higher prices – Orange County Register

“The survey says” examines various rankings and dashboards judging geographic locations while noting that these ratings are best viewed as a mixture of astute interpretation and data.

Buzz: Not only have California home hunters had to choose from far more expensive homes in the age of the pandemic, but the size of what’s on the market has also shrunk.

Source: My trusty spreadsheet and I looked at statistics on the median listing size and price per square foot of homes on the market. We focused on annual averages by state for the first 10 months of 2022 and how they compare to 2019 and 2021 results before the pandemic.


The typical California residence for sale this year was 1,750 square feet. That’s 104 square feet less than what was on sale in 2019 before the pandemic — or 6% less.

At the same time, the cost of this living space has skyrocketed. California listings are averaging $444 per square foot this year, up 40% from 2019.


The work-from-home, home-school lifestyle of the pandemic has created a demand for larger homes. So it makes sense that smaller homes are coming to market more frequently.

California house hunters weren’t the only ones suffering from the indignity of less house for more money.

California had the 12th smallest average listing this year at 1,750 square feet. The largest homes for sale were in Utah at 2,485 square feet, followed by Wyoming at 2,244, Colorado at 2,176, Delaware at 2,154 and Georgia at 2,148.

The smallest ads were found in Hawaii at 1,228 square feet, followed by New York at 1,564, Rhode Island at 1,569, Iowa at 1,578 and Michigan at 1,585.

And compared to 2019, California’s benchmark listing was 104 square feet smaller, the 28th-largest drop in the United States.

The biggest shrinkage was seen in New York, down 247 square feet in three years, then Illinois down 200, Georgia down 198, Texas down 197 and New Jersey down 193 In fact, 44 states had smaller homes on the market this year vs. three years ago.

The six “growth” states, places with larger rosters since 2019, were Delaware, up 138 square feet, then Wyoming at 121, Alaska and Nebraska at 70, Nevada at 10 and New Mexico at six.

This loss of living space makes rising home prices even more distressing for buyers. Consider listings on a price per square foot basis.

California had the second most expensive list this year at $444 per square foot, behind Hawaii at $683. Third was Massachusetts at $379, New York at $353, and Washington at $326.

The cheapest listings were in West Virginia at $114 per square foot, followed by Mississippi at $123, Ohio at $127, Kansas at $131 and Arkansas at $133.

The real pain comes when we compare these price increases to 2019.

California’s listing price per square foot has jumped 40% – and that’s just the 24th highest jump. The highs were Montana at 80%, then Idaho at 70%, Utah at 64%, New York at 62%, and Tennessee at 56%.

The smallest three-year gains were seen in North Dakota at 23%, followed by Louisiana and West Virginia at 24%, Maryland at 25%, and Mississippi at 26%.

At the end of the line

In 2022, it’s back to work for many and back to school for children. Add to that soaring mortgage rates and a cooldown on buying a home. Now the pace of less for more has slowed down.

California’s typical 2022 listing was just 12 square feet smaller than the 2021 size. And 32 states have larger homes for sale this year.

Additionally, California listing prices rose just 2% for 2022, the smallest gain among the states. New York rose 3%, Illinois and Massachusetts rose 5%, and Michigan rose 6%.

The biggest increases per square foot are in Montana at 25%, Wyoming at 22%, Tennessee and South Dakota at 20%, and Kansas at 19%.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be contacted at

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