Here’s a Perspective on U.S. Housing Costs You Haven’t Seen Before

 In Real Estate

The never-ending effort to make comprehensible the incomprehensible housing costs in places like the Bay Area and New York has taken another step.

Any way you look at the new three-dimensional map produced by Max Galka— a New Yorker “fascinated by data” but, more important, a man with a fascinating ability to compellingly and understandingly present data visually — is a step forward.

His latest production, showcased on his website, takes Zillow’s county-by-county database on housing costs per square foot and turns it into towering spires (or little bungalows) of color whose height corresponds with expense.

So far, so good.

But in the first screenshot of his map in the slideshow, which has a view as if looking directly down at the center of the country from earth orbit, you get only a hint of the vast range of housing costs in the United States.

That tall white needle in the Northeast? Manhattan (New York County), New York.

The cluster of golden skyscrapers in the West? The counties of the Bay Area.

But what if you could grab a corner of the grid plane as if it were a sheet of plywood and tilt it this way or that — as in the secondary screenshot in the slideshow?

Now you can get some perspective on why media mogul Ted Turner and late night TV host David Letterman retired to Montana ranches.

You can do that sort of manipulation with your computer mouse with the interactive map, above, or on Galka’s website.

And if you let your cursor hover over a particular county, the map will give you the average price per square foot that a house costs there (otherwise you’ll get the U.S. average of $132 per square foot).

Manhattan’s cost per square foot? $1,397.

San Francisco’s? $878.

Santa Clara County’s. $612.

That golden spike in the Rockies? Pitkin County, Colo., better known to those who can afford it as Aspen. $841. Snow blower, heated roof and driveway optional at extra cost.


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