July 05, 2019
How Today’s Housing Stock Stacks-up Against Demographics
In an exhibition from late 2018-January 2019 titled “Making Room: Housing for a Changing America,” the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. examined demographic shifts in the United States from World War II onward, and how well (or poorly) our housing scenarios have managed to keep up with them.
The exhibit posits that, in the years immediately following World War II, America’s suburbs were filled-in by the demographic we call the “nuclear family,” which made up 43 percent of households in 1950. Even in 1970, 40 percent of homes were made up of this demographic concept. But in the years to follow, the demographic landscape has shifted and morphed in ways that were hard to predict—and that caused shifts in our national identity and the ways we want to live.
Now, nuclear families make up only 20 percent of American households. Almost 30 percent, on the other hand, are single adults who live alone—and that number appears to be on the rise, regardless of income or age. This demographic is joined in its increase by other non-traditional housing arrangements, such as single-parent households, roommates, extended families and fluid families, amounting to 28 percent of households altogether, in which adults share housing with someone other than a spouse.
But in the market, it seems most single-family housing is still nuclear-family focused. Innovation, this exhibition claims, “has been constrained, often by deeply-rooted zoning regulations.” Among the available housing, only 11.63 percent is composed of one-bedroom homes, which single adults prefer; two-bedroom homes amount to 26.54 percent of available housing, three-bedroom homes are 39.8 percent of them, and four-bedroom homes make up a full 16.6 percent.
The exhibit put forth a potential alternative in the form of The Open House, designed for the exhibition by architect Pierluigi Columbo. This conceptual design features elements such as multifunctional furniture and moveable walls configured in a way such that it can be modified to meet the needs of whichever demographic might inhabit it, and is aimed at utilizing limited space in ways that remind one of the recent rise in “tiny houses.” But it is still the case that many zoning laws do not allow for such homes.
Whatever your household demographic, Topouzis & Associates, P.C. is here to help with your closing. We do title searches and ensure a buyer is gaining clear title to their new property—and we back our services with offerings of title insurance (click here), in case someone along the line of ownership did something that will weaken title at some point in the future.