Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Housing Characteristics for Homeowners in Blue and Red States

With less than three weeks to go, let’s take a look at housing preferences of homeowners based on their political beliefs.  Historically, there are states whose residents predominantly vote for Democratic Party (Blue) or Republican Party (Red) presidential candidates[1]. Do homeowners in those states have more in common than their political preferences?

In addition to the homeownership rate[2], we examined the following housing characteristics for homeowners who reside in Blue and Red states:

  • Median home value,
  • Median Household Income (inflation-adjusted)
  • Household size,
  • Years of owing their home,
  • Year structure built,
  • Number of rooms,
  • Heating Fuel

Blue States:

It looks like traditional Democratic states don’t have many similarities on the housing characteristics above. We should bear in mind that Blue states are mostly located in coastal areas. It could be their widespread geographical location that makes homeowners so different.  First of all, the homeownership rate and home values have significant differences in Blue states. For instance, the homeownership rate in Maine and Delaware was 71 percent in 2015 while New York had 53 percent. Similarly, the value of a typical home in Hawaii was $566,900 while it was $137,500 in Michigan[3]. With respect to how many people reside in their homes, the differences are not so drastic. With the exception of Hawaii and California, more than half of Blue states had a household size in the range of 2.6-2.7. Moreover, homeowners in most Blue states tend to have lived in their residence for 14-15 years while more than 50 percent of the homeowners use utility gas and less than 10 percent of them use electricity for heating. In Maine, Connecticut and Vermont, most homeowners use fuel oil, kerosene etc. for heating.

Red States:

Homeowners who live in the traditional Republican states seem to have more similarities in their housing preferences than those of Blue states. With the exception of Texas and North Dakota[4], the homeownership rate varies from 64 to 69 percent for Red states and home values do not differ as greatly as in Blue states. Specifically, the highest value for a typical home in red states was $259,600 in Alaska while the lowest value was $112,700 in Mississippi. Furthermore, homeowners in most of those states own a house built in the decade of 1980s[5] where they typically live for 12-13 years. Lastly, in most Red states, more than 50 percent of homeowners use utility gas for heating.

Finally, comparing homeowners of Blue and Red states, it seems that they don’t have significant differences, among the characteristics examined here, other than home values and median household income. The visualization below shows the median housing characteristics for both Blue and Red states (2005-2015).

[1] The Blue and Red breakdowns used are based on results from the past 6 presidential elections (1992-2012). States that voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in all six elections are deemed “Blue” while states that voted for the Republican presidential candidate in all six elections are deemed “Red.”

[2] It was also examined the homeownership rate for Millennials (25-34 years old). Please take a look at the visualization above.

[3] All data used is from the 2015 American Community Survey published by the Bureau of the Census.

[4] Homeownership rate in Texas and North Dakota was 61 and 62 percent accordingly.

[5] Homeowners in Red states own newer houses than a typical homeowner nationwide (median year structure built is 1978 for the U.S.). Seven out of ten owner-occupied houses in Red states were built more recently than the typical house in the U.S.

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