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Boston home prices vs. other major U.S. cities: How do they stack up?

Comparing numbers

Steven Pisano via Flickr

Everyone knows—or should know—that Boston is one of the most expensive cities in the United States for buying a home.

A recent analysis from real estate research site NeighborhoodX pegged the average asking price for market-rate Boston abodes not being sold as development sites at $751 a square foot.

How does this average compare with those in other major U.S. cities?

It turns out that Boston falls between San Francisco and Los Angeles in terms of housing prices at the start of August. The average asking price per square foot in L.A. is $417 and in San Francisco $1,185. You can toggle over the chart below for more info on each city that NeighborhoodX covers.

A few key takeaways from the data, per NeighborhoodX research director Constantine Valhouli:

  • Pricing at the upper end of the cities diverges. The most expensive condo in Boston is priced considerably higher than the most expensive property in downtown Los Angeles. However, the upper end of Los Angeles ($4,321 a foot and San Francisco ($4,376 a foot) overall is far higher than the upper end of Boston ($2,996).
  • At the lower end of the market, Boston has more affordable options than San Francisco. What is also notable is that the lower end of San Francisco's market—the lowest-priced property on a per-square-foot basis—is $359, which is almost triple that of the comparable property in Boston.
  • Despite the push to increase the density in San Francisco, the density there is also considerably higher than in Boston. "Pricing reflects a mix of factors,” Valhouli said, “including demand, employment, population trends, and zoning.” While Boston and San Francisco's streetscapes appear similar at first glance, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, the population density in San Francisco is almost 42 percent higher than in Boston: 17,000 people per square mile in San Fran vs. just under 12,800 per square mile in Boston.