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How American Homes Are Changing

November 30 2010

HUD’s annual snapshot of American housing is an important tool for researchers to learn about housing stock and households, but it also reveals a lot about housing culture. 

The 2009 American Housing Survey (AHS) shows, that despite two recessions in a decade, Americans are living larger than they were 37 years ago. Homes today have more square footage, bedrooms, bathrooms, air conditioning and other amenities, but smaller lot sizes than previous generations. The differences burgeon in newer homes built after 2007.

Interestingly, the median age of ‘the American home’ is 36 years, built in 1973, the same year the AHS began.  Here are a few findings:

• Sixty-eight percent of U.S. homes are owner-occupied. Twenty-nine percent of homes are urban, 51% are suburban, and 20% are rural.

• The median size of an occupied home is 1,800 square feet, compared to 1,610 in 1985, (the earliest year this information was collected, says HUD). Owner-occupied homes tend to be larger than renter-occupied homes.

• Median lot size for single-family homes is 0.27 acres, compared to .36 acres in 1973.

• Most homes (53 percent) in 2009 boast six or more rooms. In 1973, only 39 percent of homes had that many.

• Less than half of homes (48%) had three or more bedrooms in 1973, but by 2009, 64% did.
Only 19% of homes had two or more bathrooms in 1973, while more than half of homes (51%) have them in 2009.

• Window unit air-conditioners were more popular in 1973 (30%) compared to 17% of homes with central heat and air. In 2009, 65% of U.S. homes have central air-conditioning and another 21 percent have window units. 

• Newer homes (post-2007) are a median of 2,300 square feet with six or more rooms ( 65%.) Eighty percent have three or more bedrooms, and 89% have two or more bathrooms.  Newer homes are also more likely to have amenities such as garage, fireplace, two or more living areas and a separate dining room.