The data on value (also referred to as "price asked" for vacant units) were obtained from Housing Question 16 in the 2009 American Community Survey. The question was asked at housing units that were owned, being bought, vacant for sale, or sold not occupied at the time of the survey. Value is the respondent's estimate of how much the property (house and lot, mobile home and lot, or condominium unit) would sell for if it were for sale. If the house or mobile home was owned or being bought, but the land on which it sits was not, the respondent was asked to estimate the combined value of the house or mobile home and the land. For vacant units, value was the price asked for the property. Value was tabulated separately for all owner-occupied and vacant-for-sale housing units, as well as owner-occupied and vacant-for-sale mobile homes. The value of a home provides information on neighborhood quality, housing affordability, and wealth. These data provide socioeconomic information not captured by household income and comparative information on the state of local housing markets. The data also serve to aid in the development of housing programs designed to meet the housing needs of persons at different economic levels.
Adjusting Value for Inflation
Since value collected before 2008 is the only dollar amount captured on the questionnaire in specified intervals, the category boundaries for previous years are not adjusted for inflation. In the comparison profiles, however, the median value is adjusted for inflation by multiplying a factor equal to the average annual CPI-U-RS factor for the current year, divided by the average annual CPI-U-RS factor for the earlier/earliest year.
Median and Quartile Value
The median divides the value distribution into two equal parts: one-half of the cases falling below the median value of the property (house and lot, mobile home and lot, or condominium unit) and one-half above the median. Quartiles divide the value distribution into four equal parts. Median and quartile value are computed on the basis of a standard distribution. (See the "Standard Distributions" section under "Appendix A".) Median and quartile value calculations are rounded to the nearest hundred dollars. Upper and lower quartiles can be used to note large value differences among various geographic areas. (For more information on medians and quartiles, see "Derived Measures".)
Aggregate value is calculated by adding all of the value estimates for owner occupied housing units in an area. Aggregate value is rounded to the nearest hundred dollars. (For more information on aggregates, see "Derived Measures".)
The 1996-1998 American Community Survey question provided a space for the respondent to enter a dollar amount. From 1999-2007 the question provided 19 pre-coded response categories from "Less than $10,000 to $250,000 or more - Specify." Starting in 2004, value was shown for all owner-occupied housing units, unlike from 1996-2003 in which value was shown only for specified owner-occupied housing units. Changes introduced in 2008 were removing the pre-coded response categories and adding a write-in box for the respondent to enter the property value amount in dollars, and revising the wording of the question to ask, "About how much do you think this house and lot, apartment, or mobile home (and lot, if owned) would sell for if it were for sale?"
The Census Bureau tested the changes introduced to the 2008 version of the value question in the 2006 ACS Content Test. The results of this testing show that the changes may introduce an inconsistency in the data produced for this question as observed from the years 2007 to 2008, see "2006 ACS Content Test Evaluation Report Covering Property Value" on the ACS website (www.census.gov/acs
Caution should be used when comparing American Community Survey data on value from the years 2008 and after with pre-2008 ACS data. Changes made to the value question between the 2007 and 2008 ACS involving the response option may have resulted in an inconsistency in the value distribution for some areas. In 2007 and previous years, the ACS value question included categorical response options with a write-in for values over $250,000. Beginning in 2008, the response option became solely a write-in. Caution should also be used when comparing value data from the ACS produced in 2008 or later with Census 2000 value data. The 2008 or later ACS provides solely a write-in response option while Census 2000 collected data in categories. Additionally, Census 2000 tables on value were released for both total owner-occupied housing units and specified owner-occupied housing units, thus comparisons can be made only when comparing the same universes between the two data sets.