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Newly-Built Homes Have Changed in Predictable and Some Not So Expected Ways

New housing starts in 2009 reveal both predictable and unexpected trends when compared to similar data regarding single family home size, pricing and amenities since 2005, according to a recent report by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

The October, 2010 NAHB report, which summarizes data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Manufacturing and Construction Division, highlights several changes that aren’t too surprising, given the current economic climate.

  • Number of homes built: There was a sharp decline in the number of homes built, from 1.7 million in 2005 to less than a half million in 2009. On a regional level, New England had the smallest number of new homes built (14,000) in 2009 – (The South Atlantic area had the most, with 103,000 new housing starts).
  • Size: The median size of single family homes built has declined from a peak of 2,268 square feet in 2006 to 2,100 square feet in 2009.  While the decline may be partly recession-related, it may also be attributed to a greater emphasis by buyers on controlling energy costs, tighter credit standards and a higher number of first time home buyers.
  • Pricing: The median price of new construction units has also dropped, from $256,000 in 2006 to $211,000 in 2009.
  • Amenities: Perhaps less obvious, the average number of bedrooms and baths (3 and 2, respectively) has shown little change.   Fewer homes built since 2005 have included features like three-car garages, fireplaces, patios and decks.   Interestingly, the number of homes built with a porch has increased consistently since 2005.

Over 35% of new homes built in 2009 had two-story foyers, although when broken down by sale price, 71% of those homes were priced at $1,000,000 or more.

In 2009, the washer/dryer inside new homes was located on the first floor 80% of the time, but there was a greater tendency to locate these appliances elsewhere (in the basement or garage) when the home was smaller-sized.

In New England, approximately 90% of hew homes built in 2009 had basements, a much higher percentage than the national average of 29%.   New homes built In New England had nearly twice as many finished basements (13%) compared to the national average (7%).   Despite New England’s humid summers, just half of new homes built in this region in 2009 featured central air conditioning, compared to the national average of 89%. Just 12% of new homes built in New England had patios (45% nationally) but 69% of them had decks (25% nationally).

Nearly half of all new homes built in 2009 were in communities governed by homeowner’s associations, but such communities were least common in New England (17%) and most common in the Mountain region (70%)

For more information on consumer tastes in new construction, please visit nahb.org, which has a wealth of data.   If you are interested in core housing data, such as median and average sale prices, please visit our local housing data page.

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