In a new report, Point2 analyzed exactly how many square feet $400,000 can buy in America’s 100 most populous cities.Photo: DCA88 / Adobe Stock

A $400,000 budget for buying a home can differ widely from one city to the next, getting you a four-bedroom house in one location and a studio apartment in another.

In March, the median national list price of a home in the United States rose to a new all-time high of $405,000. Meanwhile, the typical size of a new single-family home has also been on the rise, now averaging about 2,561 square feet according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Depending on how much space they’re looking for, a home buyer with a budget of $400,000 is going to get vastly different results in one city versus another. In a new report, Point2 analyzed exactly how many square feet $400,000 can buy in America’s 100 most populous cities.

So how does Phoenix stack up to the rest of the major markets across the U.S.?

With a median price per square foot of $285, a buying budget of $400,000 will get you 1,404 square feet of living space in Phoenix.

Phoenix is one of the country’s most populous cities with approximately 1.68 million people, ranking Arizona’s capital in fifth place out of the total 104 locations Point2 examined in its report. By population, this places Phoenix slightly higher than Philadelphia’s population of 1.58 million, but below Houston (2.32 million), Chicago (2.69 million) and Los Angeles (3.79 million).

Compared to the top 10 most populous cities in the U.S. that have one million residents or more, Phoenix residents have an easier time scoring more space for fewer dollars.

In New York, for instance, a $400,000 allowance will buy you just 449 square feet — the least amount of space nationwide — or 510 square feet in San Jose. On a square foot basis, Chicago ranked closely to Arizona among the other top 10 cities, where $400,000 is enough to purchase 1,556 square feet at $257 per square foot.

With a $400k budget, Phoenix ranks 70th nationwide for square footage

When compared against all of the other cities analyzed in Point2’s report, Phoenix ranks farther down the list in 70th place, meaning homebuyers in the Valley of the Sun may have a harder time with affordability compared to other markets across the country.

However, Phoenix fared slightly better than Stockton, CA (71st place) and Saint Petersburg, FL (74th place), where $400,000 will buy you 1,404 square feet and 1,274 square feet of house.


Graph: Point2Homes.com

Other cities in Arizona reported similar price-to-square-footage results. In Mesa, Gilbert and Chandler, $400,000 will get you a home between 1,471 square feet and 1,365 square feet. For an equal budget, Tucson buyers would be able to find a home that is 1,887 square feet in size based on Point2’s data.

At the very top of the national list, home shoppers in Detroit, MI will see their dollars stretch the farthest, where you can buy a whopping 5,882 square feet with $400,000, about $68 per square feet. Purchasers in Cleveland and Toledo, OH will also experience similar savings, where $400,000 will fetch homes around 5,128 square feet and 4,444 square feet.

With the pandemic driving demand for space at home, more Americans may continue to relocate to cheaper housing markets where larger dwellings are more financially accessible.

“Although most people know that desirable urban hubs and sprawling living space don’t mix (and many are still willing to accept that compromise) many others want to find out just how green the grass can be on the other side — the suburban side,” said the Point2 report. “Recent research suggests that big cities might be falling from grace, with owners who work from home willing to relocate in order to get more bang for their buck.”

Data from the Pew Research Center reports that Americans are increasingly less likely to opt for big city living, with one-in-five U.S. adults now saying that they have a preference for living in a city, a drop from about a quarter in 2018. Meanwhile, the percentage of adults who have a desire to live in the suburbs has increased from 42 percent to 46 percent during the same time period.

Here’s what $400k can get you in Phoenix new construction

According to data from BuzzBuzzHome, the median list price for a Phoenix townhome or house is $177 per square foot.

If you’re thinking of buying new, here’s a few examples of how far a budget of $400,000 would take you in the Phoenix metropolitan area’s new construction market.

With a median price per square foot of $285, a buying budget of $400,000 will get you 1,404 square feet of living space in Phoenix.Photo: Verde Trails – Classic Series by Meritage Homes via BuzzBuzzHome

Plan Atlas at Verde Trails – Classic Series

Location: 11038 West Luxton Lane, Tolleson
Size: Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, 1,327 square feet
Developer: Meritage Homes
Price: From $394,990

In this family-friendly community, residents of Verde Trails will have access to a playground, walking trails and sports fields. The single-storey Atlas plan provinces over 1,300 of living space, complete with a two-car bay garage, and a primary bedroom suite with dual sinks and a walk-in closet.

Plan Station at Villas at Cypress Ridge

Location: 5805 West Pueblo Avenue, Phoenix
Size: Two bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, 1,431 square feet
Developer: Woodside Homes
Price: From $404,990

Built by Woodside Homes, Villas at Cypress Ridge is located near the north side of Salt River east of Loop 202. The Station plan in this collection of single-family homes features an open concept layout with walk-in closets, a covered front porch and large showers across two storeys.

Plan Marigold at Verde Trails

Location: 10842 West Chipman Road, Tolleson
Size: Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, 1,353 square feet
Developer: Centex Homes
Price: From $399,990

Designed as a single-storey home, Plan Marigold at Verde Trails is finished with a two-car garage, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. For easy transition from the café to the patio, this home’s floor plan is equipped with sliding glass doors.

Developments featured in this article

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