Housing’s Demographic Shift

Guest Author: Chris Porter of John Burns Real Estate, previously published July 8, 2011 at Advisor Perspectives

The growth in non-family households is staggering! The number of non-family households – people living alone or households that do not have any members related to the householder – has increased nearly five times in the last 50 years, from 7.9 million to 39.2 million. At the same time, the number of family households has increased by just 1.7 times, from 45.1 million to 77.5 million. The absolute growth in both has been about equal.

Additionally, married couples now comprise less than half of all U.S. households. The percentage of households occupied by married couples has been declining at a rate of approximately 0.5% per year for the last 50 years, from 75% of all households in 1960 to only 48% last year.

These significant demographic shifts create opportunities to design and sell homes to a growing group who cannot find what they want in the resale market because the resale market was primarily built for families.

  • Home Sizes: While new homes may currently be getting smaller, when you ask consumers what they want, they’re still looking for more square footage. However, non-family households will generally require less space than a family household. For example, non-family households are more likely to choose a home under 2,500 square feet and family households are more likely to choose a home under 3,000 square feet.
  • Bedroom Count: Our recent consumer survey of households across the country found that more than two-thirds of non-family households want three or fewer bedrooms. Two-thirds of family households want four or more bedrooms.
  • Location Attributes: Family households are more likely to stretch for size over location. Non-family households are more likely to value location – proximity to work, entertainment, etc. – and then size. They are less willing to commute than a family household.
  • Amenity Preferences: While the family and non-family household preferences are remarkably similar in terms of community and home, non-family households are less likely to choose features like media rooms, community pools and tot lots.

There is a whole lot more to learn about these different groups, and there are some great demographics resources you can use to do so (e-mail Chris Porter if you have questions on how to do this). Understanding the demographics and household compositions of your markets will help you better understand what consumers want today and help you be more successful.

(c) John Burns Real EstateĀ  www.realestateconsulting.com

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