The Ultimate Real Estate Guide: West/Rockies Region

While the Western region of the United States may make up more than half of the total land area of the country, this article will be covering California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and even the archipelago state of Hawaii. With geological features ranging from the peaks and valleys of the Rocky Mountains to wide open desert land, the landscape out west can change dramatically from state to state, with the Pacific Ocean waiting on the coast of California. Halfway through the 1800s, the region was rapidly settled and populated quickly enough for California to bypass the usual “territory” phase of settlement and advance straight to statehood within the year. Not only that, but Utah also experienced a significant amount of growth when the Latter Day Saints migrated to the state in the 1840s. Since then, the West has continued to grow and establish itself with its own unique regional culture differentiating it from the east coast.

Before making your own journey out west and settling into a new home, it’s important to have an idea of what the housing market is like and what sort of demographics you can expect once you get there. Below, we’ve provided an outline of the real estate situation in each of the states covered in this article, along with important information to paint a clearer picture of what the cities are like across each state.

 

California

wr-californiaAs the largest state on the west coast, it should come as no surprise that California takes a spot in the top 3 largest states in America, just behind Alaska and Texas. However, its whopping 38+ million residents makes it the most populous state in the country, leading Texas by quite a margin. Taking into account the varying standards of living throughout California, the median home value comes in around $391,102. Those who pay a monthly mortgage can expect a price close to $1,733 while renters pay close to $914 each month. Considering the prevalence of upper-scale communities in the Golden State, prices can be skewed toward the higher end in some areas, but we’ve provided information on three cities below to help show some of the range of real estate demographics found in California.

  • Los Angeles
    • Median Home Price: $680,000
    • Median Rent: $4,250
    • Median Household Income: $40,542
    • Percentage of Home Owners: 30%
    • Median Age: 34
    • School Systems: Above National Average
  • Fresno
    • Median Home Price: $218,250
    • Median Rent: $1,295
    • Median Household Income: $40,917
    • Percentage of Home Owners: 51%
    • Median Age: 31
    • School Systems: Above National Average
  • Sacramento
    • Median Home Price: $263,000
    • Median Rent: $1,567
    • Median Household Income: $47,321
    • Percentage of Home Owners: 54%
    • Median Age: 34
    • School Systems: Elementary – Above National Average; Middle – Average; High – Above Average

 

Colorado

wr-coloradoFeaturing an incredibly diverse variety of landscapes from arid deserts to snow-capped mountaintops, Colorado is consistently regarded as one of the most beautiful destinations in the country, let alone the West. Over 5.3 million residents call the Centennial State home, with home owners and renters paying around $1,355 and $724 each month, respectively. In a state that offers so many great views of the landscape, one might expect just as much variety in the real estate market. With a median home value of $211,740, we feel that the three cities we’ve covered below help to paint a better picture of what one can expect when looking for a new home in Colorado.

  • Denver
    • Median Home Price: $350,000
    • Median Rent: $2,200
    • Median Household Income: $48,621
    • Percentage of Home Owners: 58%
    • Median Age: 34
    • School Systems: Above National Average
  • Boulder
    • Median Home Price: $676,625
    • Median Rent: $2,600
    • Median Household Income: $80,630
    • Percentage of Home Owners: 68%
    • Median Age: 38
    • School Systems: Above National Average
  • Grand Junction
    • Median Home Price: $187,700
    • Median Rent: $1,200
    • Median Household Income: $50,664
    • Percentage of Home Owners: 74%
    • Median Age: 40
    • School Systems: Elementary – Above National Average; Middle & High – Average

 

Hawaii

wr-hawaiiThe Aloha State of Hawaii presents a rather unique real estate market for two distinct reasons. First, it is the only state of the 50 that is not located within the Americas and is instead found about 2,000 miles southwest of the continental United States, in the North Pacific Ocean. Second, the state itself is spread out over 8 separate islands, leading to a considerably different travel situation between various parts of the state. Nonetheless, Hawaii is home to around 1.5 million residents who pay around $1,648 a month if owning and close to $871 a month if renting. Because of its undeniably tropical location and atmosphere, the median home value in Hawaii comes in at $364,840, with many homes going well above that, as you’ll see with the three Aloha cities listed below.

  • Honolulu
    • Median Home Price: $509,500
    • Median Rent: $2,500
    • Median Household Income: $67,083
    • Percentage of Home Owners: 52%
    • Median Age: 43
    • School Systems: Above National Average
  • Pahoa
    • Median Home Price: $198,750
    • Median Rent: $1,600
    • Median Household Income: $33,760
    • Percentage of Home Owners: 70%
    • Median Age: 40
    • School Systems: Below National Average
  • Pearl City
    • Median Home Price: $645,000
    • Median Rent: $2,500
    • Median Household Income: $78,867
    • Percentage of Home Owners: 76%
    • Median Age: 41
    • School Systems: Elementary & Middle – Above National Average; High – Average

 

Nevada

wr-nevadaDespite Nevada’s Spanish meaning of “snow-covered,” the 7th largest state in the U.S. is largely covered in desert land and features a semiarid climate. Of course, that doesn’t stop Nevada from being a tourist oasis, leading to the majority of the state’s money being made accommodating and entertaining visitors from both near and far. Of its 2.8 million residents, home owners pay close to $1,274 a month in mortgage while renters pay an average of $787 in rent each month. Because it is primarily a tourist destination, the median home value in the Silver State is relatively high at $202,937, and many of the larger cities in the state tend to fall around that range as well, as seen below.

  • Las Vegas
    • Median Home Price: $202,750
    • Median Rent: $1,300
    • Median Household Income: $52,713
    • Percentage of Home Owners: 60%
    • Median Age: 36
    • School Systems: Above National Average
  • Carson City
    • Median Home Price: $239,000
    • Median Rent: $1,322
    • Median Household Income: $58,669
    • Percentage of Home Owners: 60%
    • Median Age: 44
    • School Systems: Elementary – Above National Average; Middle – Average; High – Below Average
  • Reno
    • Median Home Price: $272,900
    • Median Rent: $1,600
    • Median Household Income: $55,276
    • Percentage of Home Owners: 62%
    • Median Age: 37
    • School Systems: Above National Average

 

Utah

wr-utahFinishing out the list is Utah, also known as the Beehive State. Unlike any other U.S. state, a majority (around 62%) of Utah’s 3 million residents are reported to be members of a single church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Not only that, but it also has the least income quality out of the 50 states, as determined by the Gini coefficient. Looking at the real estate demographics, Utah has a median home value of $157,275, with home owners and renters paying $1,164 and $662 each month, respectively. Of course, with the state’s rapidly growing population, real estate prices could fluctuate quite a bit depending on where you go. Luckily, we’ve covered a few different cities below to give a better idea of what prices to expect.

  • Salt Lake City
    • Median Home Price: $490,267
    • Median Rent: $1,500
    • Median Household Income: $49,705
    • Percentage of Home Owners: 61%
    • Median Age: 32
    • School Systems: Elementary & Middle – Above National Average; High – Average
  • Orem
    • Median Home Price: $346,781
    • Median Rent: $1,310
    • Median Household Income: $58,750
    • Percentage of Home Owners: 74%
    • Median Age: 27
    • School Systems: Above National Average
  • St. George
    • Median Home Price: $403,183
    • Median Rent: $1,400
    • Median Household Income: $46,818
    • Percentage of Home Owners: 67%
    • Median Age: 33
    • School Systems: Above National Average

 

(Real Estate Information Source: Trulia.com)