COVID-19 has impacted the way many home owners utilize their space. With more time spent at home, there is an increased preference among home owners to have more space to accommodate a range of activities from teleworking to managing hybrid school schedules. Recent housing data has confirmed this continuing trend.
According to data from the U.S. Census and a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) analysis, the median single-family square floor area increased to 2,337 square feet, while the average square footage for new single-family homes increased to 2,541. These metrics have increased 9.3% and 6.2%, respectively, since Great Recession lows.
The desire for larger homes is supported by other recent housing trends data. Recently, the U.S. Census released their Bureau’s Survey of Construction’s (SOC’s) 2020 estimates of the shares of the number of bedrooms in new single-family homes. The data showed a sharp upswing in the percentage of new homes started with four or more bedrooms, unlike in prior recent years.
Nationally, the share of single-family homes started with four bedrooms or more increased from 42.6 percent in 2019 to 45.2 percent in 2020. These developments are linked to changes in the makeup of home buyers from the previous years.
In 2020, the detrimental economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a low-interest rate environment in the United States, and low housing supply together drove prices up, leaving some prospective first-time home buyers out of the market. Successful buyers were generally looking for more space.
The survey also showed that new homes started with lower square footage had fewer bedrooms built. For example, in homes less than 1,200 square feet, 83 percent had two bedrooms or less and the remaining homes were all three-bedrooms. Similarly, in the next tier of home size, 1,200 to 1,599 square feet, 31 percent of all new homes started had two bedrooms or less, 67 percent had three bedrooms, and the remaining percentage was taken by homes with four bedrooms.
Looking ahead, experts expect home sizes to increase again, given a shift in home buyer preferences for more space due to the increased use and roles of homes (for work, for study) in the post-COVID-19 environment.