The median size of new homes in the U.S. increased from just over 1,500 square feet in 1973 (the first year the Census Bureau began tracking new home size) to 2,309 square feet at its peak in 2007. The median size has declined almost 10% since then. Will the trend to smaller-sized homes persist? Let’s consider changes in household types.
Married couples without children (including empty-nesters) will be the fastest-growing household type. Some demographers estimate that up to 80% of new households formed over the next 15 years will be child free as Baby Boomers become empty-nesters and career-driven Echo Boomers postpone marriage and kids. As married couples without children become the home buying majority and families with kids become the home buying minority, the trend to smaller-sized homes should continue.
Married couples without children will be followed closely by single-person households.
Single women own almost twice as many homes as single men. In general, women’s incomes have increased over 60 percent in the past thirty years while men’s incomes have remained about the same. In fact, in areas where there is a largely educated population, wages of women in their 20’s are equal to or 120 percent of the wages of men of the same age. This has given single women greater purchasing power. Generation X women are 70 percent more likely than early boomer women to have a college degree and are more likely to purchase a home while they are still single because they are more likely to wait longer to marry and have children. Generation Y women are the only significantly growing home-buying demographic group due primarily to their increasing education level and greater purchasing power.
Either as singles or divorcees, women are becoming heads of households in increasing numbers. This trend toward increasing numbers of women becoming heads of households and home buyers is expected to continue.
This trend to single-person households and women as heads of households should also support the trend to smaller-sized homes.
Chuck Miller GMB CGP CGB MIRM CMP MCSP CSP
President / Builder – Chuck Miller Construction Inc.