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Red States/Blue States: Housing Data Reveals Key Differences

A record number of Americans have voted early in November's presidential election.

Due to the heightened interest, researchers at Realtor.com are doing their part to help anticipate results.

They pose the following questions, "Where do the deeply etched red-state/blue-state splits really come from? And how much can the huge housing differences across the nation tell us about how we got here—and where we're going?"

They turned to the data to find out.

"We analyzed eight major housing indicators, to see how greatly they diverged between red, blue, and swing states," Realtor.com reported. "We analyzed internal data to come up with metrics for home and rental price, price appreciation, home size, and inventory. We took the age of homes and the homeownership rate from U.S. Census Bureau data. The second-home information came from Optimal Blue, a real estate data firm specializing in lending information."

From blue-state residents paying more rent, to red states having larger homes, substantial housing differences can contribute to how people feel, politically, noted Realtor.com's economists.

"Life can be really different, depending on where you live," says Chief Economist, Danielle Hale. "That's reflected in different real estate norms, and it has a role in how you view your life and your priorities and values." She adds that "owning a home literally gives people a stake in the ground, and that seems to translate into [more of] an incentive to vote."

They identified 20 red states, 17 blue states plus Washington, DC, and 13 swing states (based on Politico's swing states designations, they included Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin).

Here are the some of the biggest housing differences between red, blue, and swing states that might help push one candidate or another to the finish line, according to the report:

Highest and Lowest Home Prices

  • Red: $249,650
  • Blue: $424,500
  • Swing: $310,698

Home prices tend to be higher in blue states, according to the research. "A lot of the differences you see between red states and blue states reflect the urban-rural divide. Urban areas have traditionally voted more Democrat, and rural areas have typically voted more Republican," says Jonathan Bydlak, Interim Director of the Governance Program at the R Street Institute, a libertarian think-tank. In this year's election, he adds, "We've seen an increased polarization between urban and rural lines."

Biggest Rise in Home Prices Since the Last Election

  • Red: 30.9%
  • Blue: 26.5%
  • Swing: 35%

"Home appreciation, a nightmare for first-time buyers and a godsend for sellers, is strongest in the current swing states, which tend to be going through a demographic shift," Realtor.com reported.

As swing states continue to lure residents from more-liberal locales, the political leaning of those so-called purple states become more liberal, the researchers noticed, which is why prices there are skyrocketing.

"Rising home prices can be good or bad, depending on whether you already own a home," says Realtor.com's Hale. "They create equity for owners that can be tapped for remodeling, invested in a business, or leveraged for a down payment on a future home. But for renters hoping to become owners, they can make the goal of owning a home seem frustratingly unattainable."

Where Homes for Sale Have Decreased the Most Since the 2016 Election

  • Red: -54%
  • Blue: -49%
  • Swing: -59%

Lack of homes on the market has become a major issue for potential homebuyers nationwide.

The number of properties for sale is down the most in swing states, for the same reasons why home appreciation is the highest there, Realtor.com reported.

The Biggest and Smallest Homes

  • Red: 1,989 square feet
  • Blue: 1,839 square feet
  • Swing: 1,868 square feet

Homes in the redder states of the South and Midwest, where zoning is less strict and construction labor is typically less expensive, it is easier, as Realtor.com puts it, "to go big."

The fact that Utah had the most median square footage (2,546 square feet) while homes in Washington, DC had the least (1,136 square feet) backs this up.

States With Highest Homeownership Rates

  • Red: 60%
  • Blue: 57%
  • Swing: 59%

Homeowners tend to be a little more conservative than renters, says John Weicher, director of the Center for Housing and Financial Markets at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think-tank in Washington, DC.

"If you own your own home, you've got [more of] a stake in society," says Weicher, who served as an assistant secretary of housing for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the first term of President George W. Bush. Homeowners, he notes, are more likely to want to protect their net worth and vote on issues that can affect their finances, such as taxes.

Highest Percentage of Second Homes

  • Red: 5%
  • Blue: 8%
  • Swing: 4%

For further explanation, more indicators, and total methodology, visit the full report on Realtor.com.

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others. Contact Christina at [email protected].

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