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How Much Home Does $400,000 Buy You in America’s Largest Cities?

Author Icon By Stephanie Koncewicz Updated 08/11/2023

The median home sales price in the U.S. has hovered around $400,000 for the past few years. It spiked to $432,799 in 2022 but declined slightly in 2023, with high interest rates suppressing demand. Data from Redfin shows that in March 2023, the median home sale price was $400,698.

However, $400,000 buys you significantly different-size homes depending on where you are. Finding a home in the $400,000 price range may not be easy in many high-cost-of-living areas, such as California. Meanwhile, $400,000 may buy you quite a large home in the Midwest. 

We investigated how much home $400,000 can buy you in the 100 largest U.S. cities. We estimated the size of a $400,000 house using data on the average price per square foot for home sales in these cities from April 2022 through March 2023. We also discuss the median home value and percentage of single-family homes using 2021 data from the Census Bureau. Check out the Methodology section below for more details.


Main Findings

  • Nationally, you can buy a roughly 1,800-square-foot home for $400,000. From April 2022 through March 2023, the average price per square foot for single-family homes was $218. This means that $400,000 will buy you a 1,832-square-foot home nationally on average. 
  • $400,000 goes furthest in Detroit. With a median home value of just $69,300 and an average price per square foot of $67, Detroit tops our rankings regarding expected space for a $400,000 home. We estimate that $400,000 could buy a nearly 6,000-square-foot home in the Motor City.
  • In 19 cities, $400,000 buys you less than 1,000 square feet of home on average. These cities are largely concentrated in California. $400,000 buys you less than 500 square feet of home in three California cities—San Francisco, Fremont, and San Jose.

400000 dollar homes by city

Cities Where $400,000 Goes the Furthest

Many of the cities where $400,000 goes the furthest are in the Midwest. The five cities where you get the most bang for your buck span four Midwestern states: Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, and Indiana.

1. Detroit, Michigan

The median home value in Detroit, Michigan, is only $69,300, which means a $400,000 home budget goes far in Motor City. The median price per square foot for residential properties over the past year is $67, so $400,000 would buy you a nearly 6,000-square-foot home. 

  • Average price per square foot: $67
  • Estimated size of a $400,000 home: 5,993 square feet

2. Toledo, Ohio

Situated on the western tip of Lake Erie, Ohio’s Toledo ranks second for cities where $400,000 goes the furthest regarding home purchases. In this city of roughly 268,500 people, the median home value is $100,100—less than half the 2021 national average ($281,400). 

Toledo’s average price per square foot is similarly low relative to national figures. Recent data shows that the average price per square foot is $90 for single-family homes, meaning that $400,000 would buy you a 4,444-square-foot home.

  • Average price per square foot: $90
  • Estimated size of a $400,000 home: 4,444 square feet

3. Cleveland, Ohio

While the 2021 median home value in Cleveland, Ohio, is lower than Toledo’s ($83,400 versus $100,100), the average price per square foot is slightly higher at $94. The home size difference between Cleveland and Toledo is roughly 200 square feet, so you can still get a 4,272-square-foot home for $400,000 in Cleveland.

  • Average price per square foot: $94
  • Estimated size of a $400,000 home: 4,274 square feet

4. Wichita, Kansas

Located in south-central Kansas, Wichita is a city of roughly 395,700 people that ranks high for home affordability. The 2021 median home value stood at $165,700, and more recent home sale data places the price per square foot at $113. With that, $400,000 will buy you roughly 3,553 square feet of home, well above the average home size in the U.S., which is roughly 1,600 square feet, according to recent Redfin estimates.

  • Average price per square foot: $113
  • Estimated size of a $400,000 home: 3,553 square feet

5. Fort Wayne, Indiana

Fort Wayne, Indiana, is the smallest of the five cities where $400,000 goes furthest. According to Census Bureau estimates, the population stands at 263,800. Fort Wayne is also in the top 10 cities, with the highest percentage of single-family homes at 69%. For homes sold from April 2022 through March 2023, the average price per square foot was $115, meaning that $400,000 will get you an approximately 3,483-square-foot home.

  • Average price per square foot: $115
  • Estimated size of a $400,000 home: 3,483 square feet

Cities Where $400,000 Goes the Least

The top five cities where $400,000 goes the least are all in California. With an average price per square foot of $665 or higher, you could afford at most a 600-square-foot home with a $400,000 budget in any of the following cities.

1. San Francisco, California

A $400,000 home in San Francisco, California, would be quite small and likely difficult to find. The average price per square foot in the Golden City is $996 for all homes and $1,019 for single-family homes.

Since single-family homes make up less than 1 in 5 homes (19%) in San Francisco, we calculated the estimated size of a $400,000 home based on the city’s overall price per square foot. We found that $400,000 would buy you only 402 square feet of home.

  • Average price per square foot: $996
  • Estimated size of a $400,000 home: 402 square feet

2. Fremont, California

The median home value in Fremont, California, is roughly $1.2 million, according to 2021 Census Bureau data. More recent estimates from Redfin show a similar price.

Over the past year, the average price per square foot for single-family residential homes in Fremont was $952. This means your housing budget doesn’t go as far in this city. The estimated size of a $400,000 home is 420 square feet—barely larger than in San Francisco.

  • Average price per square foot: $952
  • Estimated size of a $400,000 home: 420 square feet

3. San Jose, California

San Jose, just an hour outside San Francisco, is the third Californian city where $400,000 buys you less than 500 square feet of home. More than half of the homes there are single-family, with the average price per square foot at $884. Considering this, a $400,000 home would be only 452 square feet. 

  • Average price per square foot: $884
  • Estimated size of a $400,000 home: 452 square feet 

4. Irvine, California

In Orange County, Irvine ranks as the fourth city where $400,000 buys the least. Many of the city’s 309,000 residents own expensive homes, with a median home value of $970,500. With that, the average price per square foot is $721, more than three times the national average. Therefore, a $400,000 home would only be roughly 555 square feet. 

  • Average price per square foot: $721
  • Estimated size of a $400,000 home: 555 square feet 

5. Los Angeles, California

Perhaps surprisingly, Los Angeles slightly outperforms Irvine regarding home affordability. Both cities have 37% single-family homes. However, the average price per square foot for single-family homes in Los Angeles is slightly lower, at $665 (compared to $721).

A prospective homeowner with $400,000 could afford roughly 601 square feet of home in Los Angeles. But that may be hard to find. The median home value in the area was $812,800 in 2021, more than double the $400,000 figure we considered. 

  • Average price per square foot: $665
  • Estimated size of a $400,000 home: 601 square feet

How To Make the Most of Your Home Funds

In this study, we looked at average price-per-square-feet figures across different cities. However, prospective homebuyers may be able to get more for their money if they buy an older home or a fixer-upper.

Older homes tend to have a lower purchase price than their newer counterparts. According to Rocket Mortgage, the price of a newly built home is often much higher than an older one—typically by 30% or more. 

This price difference has real square footage implications for how far $400,000 goes. The table below compares a hypothetical newly built home for $400,000 and an older home, assuming a 30% difference in price. 

Table describing the price per square foot of older and newer homes

Fixer-uppers—no matter how old they are—may also sell for a lower price, but they require time and money after the sale. For individuals looking to save, DIY is an option. If you choose to buy a fixer-upper and complete the home improvement projects yourself (rather than hiring a professional), the savings may be significant.

No matter what type of home you buy, though, get a home inspection. This entails having a qualified home inspector complete a thorough investigation of any repairs needed. In doing so, the prospective buyer can have a true sense of the total cost of the home, including both up-front and additional costs.

Other major expenses when you move include hiring movers. If you have a small home with a local move, a DIY move will likely save you thousands of dollars. If you have a long-distance move or a large home, compare several quotes to choose the cheapest professional mover. And don’t forget to ask your mover about short-term storage options if you are purchasing a fixer-upper and need extra space while you complete your first projects.


Methodology

The This Old House Reviews Team sought to find how big of a home you could purchase with $400,000 in the 100 largest U.S. cities. We considered the average price per square foot for homes sold from April 2022 through March 2023 using data from Redfin.

Single-family homes account for about 77% of homes in the U.S. But they are more prevalent in certain cities and often have a significantly lower share of homes in large cities. To account for differences, we considered the average price per square foot for single-family residential homes in cities where at least 30% of homes are single-family. In the 12 cities with less than 30% of single-family homes, we used the average price per square foot across all home sales.

All other data cited on median home values and the share of single-family homes comes from the Census Bureau’s 2021 1-year American Community Survey.

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