Building permit data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that investment in single-family homes has been on the decline for several decades, while investment in multi-unit properties has increased. However, migration shifts and urban density concerns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic could reverse this trend in the future. Cities and states that have invested more in single-family residences may be better positioned for the years ahead.
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Single-Family Homes Are Back In Demand
Prior to COVID-19, the share of new housing units designated as single-family homes had been decreasing for decades. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 71.5 percent of new housing units in 1990 were single-family homes. By 2019, however, only 62.2 percent of new housing units nationwide were single-family homes. Notably, the overall number of new housing units authorized dropped precipitously in 2008 during the Great Recession, and has still not recovered to pre-recession level.
As of the 2018 American Community Survey, approximately 67 percent of all existing housing units in the U.S. were categorized as single-family homes. But there is some regional variation, with 74.3 percent of existing homes in the West North Central Division and only 59.5 percent of existing homes in the Middle Atlantic Division designated as single-family. In most regions, new single-family home investment in 2019 lagged behind historical levels. Single-family homes accounted for a larger share of new, rather than existing, housing units in just two Census divisions, both of which are in the South.
Only 31.6 Percent Of New Jersey Investing In Single-Family Homes
Southern and Mountain states invested the most in single-family homes in 2019. In states such as Wyoming, Louisiana, and Mississippi, more than 85 percent of new homes were single-family. By contrast, densely populated Northeastern states including New York (20.8 percent), New Jersey (31.6 percent), and Massachusetts (36.2 percent) were least likely to have invested in single-family homes in 2019.
To find which states are investing the most in single-family homes, researchers at Porch analyzed new housing authorization data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Building Permits Survey. The analysis found that in New Jersey, 31.6% of new housing units were single-family in 2019, far below the national average of 62.2%. Out of all U.S. states, New Jersey is investing the 2nd least in single-family homes. Here is a summary of the data for New Jersey:
- Share of new housing units that are single-family homes (2019): 31.6%
- Share of existing housing units that are single-family homes: 63.0%
- Total new single-family homes (2019): 11,526
- Total new housing units (2019): 36,505
For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:
- Share of new housing units that are single-family homes (2019): 62.2%
- Share of existing housing units that are single-family homes: 67.3%
- Total new single-family homes (2019): 862,084
- Total new housing units (2019): 1,386,048