A home is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, and apparently, that tab just hit its highest level in history.
The median value of all homes in the United States in June surpassed $200,000, up 7 percent from a year ago, according to Zillow, a real estate listing company.
Valuing homes nationally is a tricky business because so many factors play into that value, including location, condition, lot size, aesthetics, and, yes, even Feng Shui. And there is no shortage of economists and data companies and real estate sale sites offering their perspective on current home values.
The National Association of Realtors has reported the median sale price of a U.S. home at well over $200,000 for more than a year, but that measure reflects only homes sold, not every house in every neighborhood that exists in America.
That sale price has shifted higher not just because of inherent home value but because of the mix of homes selling. Currently, more expensive homes are selling because there is a severe shortage of low-priced starter homes for sale. Higher volume on the pricier end shifts the median higher. If rental landlords suddenly dumped a few million low-priced homes on the market, and they sold fast, that median would shift lower immediately.
Zillow's index is factoring in all homes, not just homes that recently sold, although that is the basis for comparison.
"When we train our models, we observe the sales that actually happen, and then we're able to extrapolate that information to price every other home," said Svenja Gudell, Zillow's chief economist. "You take the characteristics of the house and use that to price the home." (It's called a "hedonic" pricing index, if you really want to know.)