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The value of Boston-area housing grew to $845 billion during the 2010s, report says

Such a figure underscores just how pricey residential real estate has become in recent years

Tall, narrow apartment buildings side by side. Shutterstock

The total market value of the Boston area’s housing grew 53.3 percent during the 2010s, to $845 billion, according to a new report from real estate research and listings site Zillow. That’s a $294 billion gain, and means the region accounts for 2.5 percent of the $33.6 trillion national housing market value.

The report was based on analysis of the value of every residential home in the nation, including appreciation over the decade. The sum and the share for the Boston region underscore just how expensive its housing market got during the 2010s, and how expensive it’s likely to get.

A recent report from appraiser Miller Samuel and brokerage Douglas Elliman, for instance, showed that downtown Boston condo prices hit record highs in late 2019; and the region has routinely ranked for years with markets such as New York, San Francisco, San Jose, Washington, and Los Angeles as far as cost, including for barriers such as downpayments.

As valuable and expensive as Boston-area housing became during the decade, though, it’s got nothing on regions such as New York—the total value was $3.179 trillion by 2020, with a decade increase of $656 billion—and Los Angeles, where the total value hit $2.539 trillion after a decade rise of $1.065 trillion.

California by itself accounts for more than 21 percent of the nation’s total housing value, with L.A. and San Francisco two of only three cities with a value of more than $1 trillion, according to Zillow.

And that national value of $33.6 trillion, by the way, is nearly equal to the combined GDPs of the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies. While the sum is something to behold, it’s not necessarily something to celebrate—nor is the Boston region’s contribution to it.

“More and more of the nation’s wealth is now tied up in our homes,” Zillow economist Jeff Tucker said in an email, “as workers in some of the world’s most economically productive cities, such as San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle, have raced to get a foothold in homeownership there, driving up prices with their fierce competition. Most of this growth has come from rising prices for the same homes, not from actually building more homes, a troubling trend when it comes to affordability.”