The US Census Bureau released its 2012 report on the Characteristics of New Housing last month. The report tracks residential construction trends, specifically noting details and statistics for new single-family homes built and sold each year since 1973, making it easy to compare how housing characteristics have changed over the years.
For example, of the 483,000 single-family homes completed in 2012, 432,000 or 89 percent had air-conditioning. Of the 1,197,000 homes completed in 1973, only 582,000 or 49 percent had air conditioning.
The largest number of homes built in a single year was 1,654,000 in 2006 and the least number of homes built in a single year was 447,000 in 2011. Prior to the recent housing bubble, the largest number was 1,369,000 in 1978 and the smallest number was 632,000 in 1982. Just for comparison, Freddie Mac reports 30-year fixed mortgage rates averaged 6.41% in 2006, 4.45% in 2011, 9.64% in 1978 and 16.04% in 1982.
Single-family home data includes information on square footage - the average size was 2,505-sq-ft in 2012 and 1,660-sq-ft in 1973 – as well as the typical configuration of new homes - 63,000 had two or fewer bedrooms and 198,000 had four bedrooms or more in 2012– and construction type - 142,000 had a full or partial basement, 78,000 had a crawl space and 263,000 were built on a slab in 2012.
The information is also broken down by region - 30 percent of homes built in the South exceed 3,000 square feet, while other regions lagged behind in 2012 – as well as by location within or outside of a metropolitan area.
Other noteworthy facts about the 483,000 single-family homes constructed in 2012 include:
• 34,000 homes had one and a half bathrooms or less, while 145,000 had three or more bathrooms.
• 266,000 were two or more stories.
• 278,000 had warm-air furnaces and 183,000 had heat pumps as their primary heating systems.
• 285,000 heating systems were powered by gas and 189,000 were powered by electricity.
There were 368,000 new single-family homes sold in 2012:
• The average sales price was $292,200 or $86.30 per square foot. The highest price was in the Northeast with an average of $122.60 per square foot.
• 82,000 contractor-built homes were started in 2012.
The report also includes data on multi-family construction for 2012:
• 245,000 multi-family units were started with 17,000 age restricted.
• 166,000 multi-family units were completed with16,000 age restricted.
• 60,000 of the complete units had one bedroom, 28,000 had three or more and 79,000 had two or more bathrooms.
• 1,626-sq-ft is the average of individual units for sale.
• There were 9,000 multi-family buildings completed and 8,000 of those were low-rise with three or fewer floors.