Solving Cities

Are single-family homes losing their appeal?

Are single-family homes losing their appeal?

Posting in Cities

The U.S. is expected to lose 4 billion square feet of single-family homes by 2021.

As more people in the United States live in cities, the predominant building structure -- the single-family home -- will see a decline during the next decade.

Pike Research forecasts that by 2021 the overall area of single-family homes in the U.S. will have shrunk by 4 billion square feet. That's about the size of 8.8 million of my tiny apartments or 1.6 million new single-family homes.

“For the first time since World War II, the United States is experiencing increased levels of urbanization,” says Eric Bloom, a senior research analyst at Pike, in a statement. “As more people move into cities, they tend to occupy apartments, condominiums, and other attached multi-unit housing types. By 2021, over one-fourth of the residential stock of the United States will be in multi-unit residential buildings.”

In 2011, the residential building stock was 264.3 billion square feet, with about 80 percent of that coming from single-family homes. The decline of single-family homes will come as the overall residential building stock grows to 280.1 billion square feet by 2021. But even as multi-unit residential buildings gain on the single-family majority, it's clear that the single-family home will continue to be dominant residential building type.

It's interesting to note that, even while the building stock for single-family homes decreases, brand new single-family homes in the U.S. are getting bigger. According to the U.S. Census, the average size of a new home built in 2011 was 2,480 square feet. That's up from 2,392 square feet in 2010.

There's a great divide in the U.S. More people are flocking to cities and living in smaller living spaces, but McMansions aren't dead yet.

Photo: Flickr/wblj

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure