- Nationally, 66.1 percent of homes listed for sale and sold over the past year have central air conditioning, selling for 2.5 percent — or $5,486 — more than comparable homes without central air. In Las Vegas, the share is 99.1 percent.
- Buyers in hot and humid major metros in the midwest and southwest — places like San Antonio, Cincinnati, and Detroit — are willing to pay upwards of a 5.5 percent premium for central air conditioning.
- Renters put an even higher premium on central air conditioning, possibly because fewer rental listings — 54.7 percent — advertise it and because they’re not able to add central air to rentals themselves.
Home buyers prefer central air conditioning to outdoor home features like patios or decks.
Air conditioning was listed as a required feature by 62 percent of buyers, while a private outdoor space was deemed essential by 48 percent of buyers, according to the 2017 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report.
We decided to quantify that preference and found that home buyers paid 2.5 percent more for homes with central air conditioning, on average, over the past year. That’s a premium of $5,486 for the typical (median-valued) home.
The central air premium topped 5 percent in five major metros with sizzling San Antonio, Texas, leading at 5.8 percent, which comes to $10,757. Next are metros with somewhat cooler climates — Cincinnati at 5.7 percent ($9,092), Detroit at 5.5 percent ($8,470) and Indianapolis at 5.4 percent ($8,180). They’re followed by the desert metro of Las Vegas, where buyers paid a premium of 5.2 percent or $13,620 to be cool. Because central air is so prevalent in the Midwest and Southwest, homes without air conditioning are unusual, which is part of the reason the premium in these areas is so high.
In some large, expensive West Coast markets such as Seattle, San Jose, and Los Angeles, cool air commands virtually no premium, likely because highly competitive local market conditions swamp the value premium for amenities such as central air.
Nationally, 66.1 percent of homes listed for sale and sold over the past year have central air. That share tops 90 percent in seven major metros, topped by Las Vegas with 99.1 percent.
Renters put an even higher premium on air conditioning, possibly because fewer rental listings — 54.7 percent — have it. The national premium for central air conditioning in a rental is 2.8 percent, or $40 for the median-valued rental.
New York tops the list, with a premium of 11.6 percent or $275 a month. It’s followed by metros with hot climates: Las Vegas (10.4 percent or $135), Phoenix (10.3 percent or $141), San Antonio (8.1 percent or $108) and Houston (7.6 percent or $117).
We compared homes with and without central air conditioning that were listed for rent, or listed for sale and sold, from June 1, 2017, to May 31, 2018. We controlled for variables that can affect the value of a home such as the number bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, age of the home, and location.