A Modest Home for Palm Beach

This 2,286-square-foot house, built around 1925, has no garage but does boast original details like pecky cypress ceilings, handblown stained-glass panes in the powder-room door and Cuban tile floors.

A Modest Home for Palm Beach

This 2,286-square-foot house, built around 1925, has no garage but does boast original details like pecky cypress ceilings, handblown stained-glass panes in the powder-room door and Cuban tile floors.

Census Construction Data Goes Beyond the Basics

Trade industry groups like the National Association of Realtors® and National Association of Home Builders, private corporations and government agencies spew out reams of housing statistics, but when it comes to the real nitty-gritty it is hard to beat the U.S. Census Bureau.  And the grittiest has got to be its annual report The Characteristics of New Housing.  This report tells you, as Johnny Carson used to say EVERYTHING you wanted to know about the houses Americans build and buy.

The report for 2011 was released on Friday and here is some of the information about completed homes you can glean its dozens of tables.

  • The average house completed in 2011 measured 2,480 square feet (sf) and was on a 16,663 sf lot.
  • The average price for houses sold was $83.38 per sf. Regionally the average was $111.37 in the Northeast, $87.53 in the Midwest, $76.73 in the South, and $96.12 in the West.
  • Forty-eight percent of single-family houses had three or more bedrooms and 39 percent had 4 or more. Of those with 4+ bedrooms, 57 percent had three or more baths.
  • Almost half of the houses completed had fireplaces and 5 percent had two or more.
  • Fifty-six percent of homes were heated by a warm-air furnace and 88 percent of those were fueled with gas, 11 percent with electricity and 1 percent with oil.
  • 19% of new homes sold had a garage that could hold 3 or more cars.
  • 62% of all new single-family homes sold were financed by a conventional loan compared to 58% in 2010 and 62% in 2009. Twenty percent were financed by an FHA-insured loan compared to 25% in 2010, and 24% in 2009.

The report doesn’t neglect the multi-family sector. For example, of the 138,000 multi-family units completed, 44 percent had one bathroom, 4 percent had 1-1/2 baths, and 53 percent had two or more bathrooms.  The average square footage was 1,408 and 12 percent of all units were age restricted.

The data covers construction materials, systems, and allows comparisons between houses built and houses sold.  Some of the data is available back to the 1970s and information is available both nationally and by region.  Tables are available in both PDF and EXCEL and in the latter format the user can manipulate the data to obtain greater detail.

The summary report and data tables are available at http://www.census.gov/construction/chars/.

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