The cost of buying a new home fluctuates from year to year. To get a feel for the background environment of long-term housing trends, GOBankingRates identified the cost of a new home for each year from 1963 to 2007 and used the median price of a home as the representation of a nationwide house price estimate.
Median sales prices for each year were sourced from Census.gov, and prices were adjusted for inflation in 2017 dollars using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ consumer price index inflation calculator to provide a more accurate comparison.
Average Home Price in the US by Year
Although the long-term trend is up, there have been years when housing prices have been hurt. Here’s how much the median home value in the U.S. has changed between 1963 and 2007:
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $143,522.74
1963 has been coined “the year that everything happened.” On the civil rights front, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and Medgar Evers was assassinated. In the executive branch, President John F. Kennedy was shot and U.S. involvement in Vietnam was on the rise. Against this backdrop, the modest median home price of $18,000 — $143,522.74 adjusted for inflation — began a multi-decade trend towards higher prices.
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Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $148,760.62
1964 saw a continuation of more of the same from 1963. Race riots in major cities played a role in the drafting of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a sweeping piece of legislation designed to eliminate Jim Crow segregation and counter racial discrimination. Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson escalated the U.S. presence in the Vietnam War. On the lighter side of news, Beatlemania swept across America after the Beatles touched down in New York City and America took its first steps towards putting a man on the moon.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $154,927.85
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 continued the theme of civil rights legislation at the forefront of American society, thanks in part to the march to Selma. Race riots continued in places like Watts, Calif., and Malcolm X was assassinated. 1965 was also the year that the Gateway Arch was completed in St. Louis, Mo., and Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston. By mid-1965, the median U.S. home price had ticked up to $20,000, or $154,927.85 with inflation.
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Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $161,182.17
1966 was another tumultuous year in America, as the war in Vietnam continued to escalate and riots and protests swept the country. The space race was in high gear, with the USSR landing a vehicle on the moon and the U.S. successfully completing its Gemini program — the precursor to the Apollo moon landing missions. Home prices continued to climb higher, reaching a median of $21,400.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $166,366.53
The U.S. space program had a major setback in 1967, as a flash fire during a test killed Apollo astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffey. Parts of Detroit and other cities were destroyed by race rioting, and in the Middle East, Israel fought Egypt, Jordan and Syria in the Six Day War. Home prices by mid-July reached a median of $22,700.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $173,243.96
As home prices kept rising to a median of $24,700, American endured one of its most trying years in 1968. In Vietnam, it was the year of the Tet Offensive and the My Lai massacre. On the home front, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, followed by Andy Warhol and Robert Kennedy in later months. The year did end on an inspirational note, however, as the Apollo 8 astronauts beamed back the first ever picture of the Earth from deep space taken by humans.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $170,285.91
Home prices saw a steady rise to a median $25,600 in 1969, and the country had one of its most eventful summers ever. In music news, The Who released the groundbreaking “Tommy,” the Beatles’ “Get Back” hit No. 1, and nearly 400,000 people headed to Bethel, N.Y., for Woodstock. 1969 also marked the triumph of Apollo 11’s landing on the moon. Suburban home developments continued to grow, and the typical home priced decreased moderately.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $146,871.60
The median home price fell in 1970. This price decline was one of the results of a recession that hit the country, which lasted from December 1969 until November 1970. 1970 was also the year the Ohio National Guard opened fire on students at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine. In spite of the economic and social turmoil, 1970 also became famous as the year that the King of Rock ‘N Roll, Elvis Presley, visited President Richard Nixon in the White House.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $151,562.83
With the U.S. out of recession by 1971, home prices nearly returned to their pre-recession median. War protests lumbered on, and President Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard. 1971 also witnessed the Attica prison riots, the death sentence of Charles Manson and the D.B. Cooper hijacking and disappearance.
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Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $161,243.28
One of the most notable developments of 1972 was President Richard Nixon’s surprise visit to the People’s Republic of China, a communist ally of the USSR. The president was trying to gain additional allies in the increasingly unpopular Vietnam War, which was racing towards an end due to stories and images like “Napalm Girl,” the eventual Pulitzer Prize-winning photo shot by AP photographer, Nick Ut. 1972 was also the year of the Munich Olympics hostage crisis and the Watergate scandal, the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters which ultimately led to the downfall of President Nixon.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $179,583.41
In 1973, the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam ended the violent anti-war protests that had become a symbol of the ’60s. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries began an embargo that triggered an oil crisis resulting in long gas lines across the country — if gas was available at all.
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Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $177,891.04
Recession struck again throughout 1974, with an extended decline that actually began the prior year and lasted all the way until March 1975. Despite the economic slowdown, home prices proved surprisingly resilient, jumping to a median of $35,900 ($177,891.04 with inflation). Perhaps the most notable moment of this year came when Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $177,492.43
1975 saw the last U.S. troops leave Vietnam. The year is also notable for technological developments — beyond the Rubik’s cube and the Pet Rock, 1975 also saw the birth of Microsoft and the Apple 1 prototype computer. In space, the U.S. and the Soviet Union turned to the spirit of cooperative exploration, launching the Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft for a link-up in space. In the entertainment world, sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live made its debut.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $189,484.08
1976 was a year of celebration in America, as the country turned 200 years old. Barbara Walters became the first woman to anchor an evening news broadcast, and “Charlie’s Angels” lit up TV screens across the country for the first time. America’s exploration of space continued, with the successful landing on Mars of NASA’s Viking I rover. In politics, Jimmy Carter won the presidential election over incumbent Gerald Ford.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $195,828.80
1977 held lots of highs and lows for America. New York City suffered a summer blackout and the Son of Sam killings, and Elvis Presley died at just 42 years of age. The year also saw the release of the Apple II computer, the Atari 2600 video game console and one of the biggest motion pictures of all time, “Star Wars.” John Travolta and “Saturday Night Fever” helped usher in the era of disco, and home prices continued to spike.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $207,527.86
Home prices took a dramatic jump upwards in 1978, rising from the previous year median of $48,800 to $55,700. Jimmy Carter orchestrated the Camp David Accords, a step towards Middle East peace between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Karol Jozef Wojtyla was elected John Paul II, the first non-Italian Pope in more than 400 years. 1978 also marked the largest mass suicide in modern history, at the People’s Temple compound in Jonestown, Guyana. Things remained grim after the assassination of America’s first openly gay public official, Harvey Milk.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $210,629.81
1979 saw another big jump in U.S. home prices, up to a median of $62,900. Electronics transformed the world with the introduction of the Walkman, the first portable music player. 1979 also saw the election of Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and the epic NBA battles of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. The year also carried tragedy, in the form of the 3 Mile Island nuclear disaster, the beginning of the Iranian Hostage Crisis and the deadliest day in U.S. aviation history, the crash of American Airlines Flight 191, which killed 271 passengers and crew, plus two civilians on the ground.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $191,211.31
1980 began with the first recession in five years, lasting from January until July. The economic dip didn’t seem to hurt home prices, which rose again from the previous year. Over the summer, the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Olympics as a result of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. And later that year, Mark David Chapman gunned down international pop music icon, John Lennon.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $184,123.97
As Ronald Reagan moved into the Oval Office on January 20, the Iranian Hostage Crisis was ending. Just two months later, in March, John Hinckley, Jr. infamously shot the President as he emerged from a hotel, in an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster. Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer married at Westminster Abbey in July, a globally televised event. Median U.S. home prices rose to $68,900, but another recession took hold in July.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $173,986.36
In 1982, home prices ticked up slightly, primarily due to the lasting effects of a recession that began in July 1981 and didn’t end until November 1982. Things were even worse in the stock market, which foresaw the recession and began dropping all the way back in November 1980. The economy didn’t recover until August 1982, after suffering a 27.8 percent loss in the S&P 500 index. Over in the entertainment industry, Michael Jackson dropped the biggest-selling album of all time, “Thriller.”
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $184,508.37
Median home prices jumped nearly 10 percent in 1983, as the country emerged from recession. In the midst of Cold War tensions, Soviet fighter jets shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, killing all 269 passengers aboard. Just three weeks later, a Soviet Lt. Colonel was credited with “saving the world” after ignoring indications of an inbound ICBM attack from the United States. 1983 also watched Sally Ride become the first American woman in space.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $187,880.90
Apple Computer launched the Macintosh computer in 1984, heralding a new age of home computing. The Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, in reciprocity for the American boycott of 1980. Ronald Reagan was reelected in a landslide, with opponent Walter Mondale winning only the District of Columbia and his home state of Minnesota in the electoral college vote.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $191,423.56
The U.S. economy continued to hum in 1985, with home prices rising to $84,300. “We Are the World” was recorded, featuring a host of international superstars, and the Titanic was discovered at the bottom of the ocean. The Geneva Summit saw President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev shaking hands in the midst of Cold War tensions.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $205,664.95
1986 began in tragedy, with the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger on January 28th, just 73 seconds after takeoff. In April, a flawed reactor caused the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine. However, 1986 was also the year of triumph, as legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus won his most improbable Masters Championship at the age of 46. Halley’s Comet also returned, for its first visit since 1910.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $224,781.52
1987 saw a big jump in median home prices — a 13.6 percent pop, up to $104,500. That was countered, however, by the devastation in Wall Street near the end of the year. On October 19th, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had its biggest one-day percentage drop in history, falling 22.6 percent and earning the name “Black Monday.” 1987 also saw the unfolding of the Iran Contra scandal, a complicated governmental scandal that threatened to bring down the presidency.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $232,391.77
1988 was the year that George H.W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis in the presidential election. In July, the cruiser USS Vincennes accidentally shot down Iran Air Flight 655, killing all 290 aboard. In December, Libyan terrorists exploded a bomb aboard Pan Am Flight 103, killing 259 passengers aboard and 11 more people on the ground.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $236,127.97
1989 was another year for growing home prices. It was also a historic moment in global history, as the Berlin Wall came down in November. In China, Chinese troops fired on protesters in Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds or even thousands. 1989 also witnessed the birth of a new era in technology, when Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $230,707.05
The first recession in nearly a decade began in July of 1990, resulting in a modest $2,900 gain in the average home price in the U.S., to $122,900 ($230,707.05). Operation Desert Shield began as an attempt to protect Kuwait after the invasion of Iraq. The Hubble Space Telescope was launched aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, going on to provide countless scientific advances and incredible astronomical photos. And in February, Nelson Mandela was freed after 27 years of imprisonment.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $215,670.48
The recession of 1990 continued on all the way until March of 1991. Housing prices followed suit, with the national average home price actually dropping back down to 1989 levels. Operation Desert Shield turned into Operation Desert Storm, with American-led forces bombing Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army into submission. Freddie Mercury, flamboyant lead singer of the rock group Queen, died in November.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $211,683.27
Home prices inched up in 1992, although they still remained below 1990 levels. In Minnesota, the largest mall in America, appropriately named the Mall of America, was built. Riots break out over the acquittal of police officers seen on videotape beating motorist Rodney King and Bill Clinton was elected president over incumbent George H.W. Bush.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $212,442.03
1993 saw the first World Trade Center bombing, in which six were killed and 1,000 were injured. Federal agents raided the Waco compound of Branch Davidian leader David Koresh, leading to the deaths of four agents and six Branch Davidians. 1993 also marked the debut of Beanie Babies and Intel’s Pentium processor.
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Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $214,435.18
On January 17, 1994, the Northridge earthquake rocked the greater Los Angeles area, causing billions of dollars in damage and killing 54 people. 1994 also marked the deaths of Kurt Cobain, former President Richard Nixon and former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found murdered in June, leading to the arrest of football star O.J. Simpson.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $214,930.13
In April, ex-Army soldier Timothy McVeigh detonated a bomb at the Oklahoma City Federal Building, killing 168 in the worst case of domestic terrorism in U.S. history at the time. O.J. Simpson’s trial ends with an acquittal, Microsoft released its Windows 95 program and a 19-year-old named Tiger Woods won the U.S. Amateur Championship.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $218,280.51
1996 was a difficult year for aviation, with ValuJet Flight 592 crashing into the Florida Everglades and TWA Flight 800 exploding in mid-air off the coast of New York. After an 18-year search, the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, was arrested. In November, incumbent President Bill Clinton defeats Republican Bob Dole to retain the White House.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $222,671.38
Sixteen years after her world-changing wedding, Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a Paris car accident in August. China began its “one country, two systems” policy with the peaceful handover of Hong Kong from Great Britain. The stock market had a “flash crash” and recovery, dropping 7.18 percent and then roaring back 4.71 percent the following day.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $228,736.92
Median home prices first went above $150,000 in 1998. In April, the Good Friday agreement is signed in Northern Ireland, bringing 30 years of sectarian violence known as “The Troubles” to a close. Trouble of a different kind was brewing in the White House, where President Bill Clinton’s denials of a relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky led to his impeachment.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $236,415.99
1999 was the end of a millennium, but rather than excitement, it brought panic to a number of companies and computer specialists. The concern was the “Y2K bug,” which threatened to throw the world’s computer systems into chaos. Since most computer programs only used two digits to represent the year, as a method to save space in computer memories, the fear was that when the year 2000 hit, computer systems might think it’s actually 1900. Thankfully, year of feverish preparation was enough to avoid any major problems.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $239,402.97
Home prices kept recovering in the first year of the new millennium, up to a median of $169,000. However, the stock market was about to face years of problems. The dot-com “bubble,” created by a tremendous run-up in stock prices at the end of the decade, set off a 30-month downturn in the markets. In December, the Supreme Court made a landmark decision in handing victory in the presidential election to George W. Bush over Al Gore.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $241,614.13
2001 saw the continued unraveling of the nation’s stock markets, along with a recession lasting from March to November. Still, the housing market continued churning higher, up to a median price of $175,200. Undoubtedly, the year is remembered by the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington D.C., in which two hijacked planes took down both World Trade Center towers and a third crashed into the U.S. Pentagon, killing almost 3,000 people.
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Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $254,979.75
The stock market carnage finally ended in 2002, after 30 months of decline and a total drop of 49.1 percent in the S&P 500 index. However, the combination of generally poor economic conditions and the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks drove carrier U.S. Airways into bankruptcy. The world’s No. 2 airline, United Airlines, followed soon after by also filing for bankruptcy.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $259,561.01
2003 marked the completion of the Human Genome Project, which successfully mapped the genetic makeup of human beings. It also marked the breakup of the Space Shuttle Columbia upon reentering Earth, killing all seven astronauts aboard. The average home value in the U.S. kept creeping higher, hitting $195,000.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $285,626.75
The U.S. median home price ticked above $200,000 for the first time, a massive gain over the previous year’s average. Incumbent President George W. Bush held off opponent John Kerry to retain the White House. And in December, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake struck Indonesia — triggering a tsunami that caused widespread devastation.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $301,785.81
2005 recorded the incredible aviation exploits of Steve Fossett, who completed the first-ever solo circumnavigation of Earth without refueling on the Virgin Atlantic “Global Flyer.” It also marked the first flight of the world’s largest passenger plane, the double-decker Airbus A380. Home prices continued to rise, jumping $19,900 to 2005’s median of $240,900.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $296,509.82
Saddam Hussein was tried and executed by the U.S. in 2006. The 2001 collapse of Enron culminated in the 2006 sentencing of top executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling. In October, Google announced that it was buying YouTube, a company that had been founded less than one year before. Amid these breaking news stories, home prices continued to climb, along with subprime lending practices, with few anticipating the bubble burst that would soon follow.
Median Cost Adjusted for Inflation: $291,323.77
2007 held the highest home price for years to come, topping out at $247,900. As signs of economic collapse were approaching, the stock market began a brutal 17-month selloff starting in October.
About the Author
John Csiszar is a freelance writer and article curator. He served as a registered investment advisor for 18 years before becoming a writing and editing contractor for private clients. In addition to writing thousands of articles for various online publications, he has published two educational books for young adults.