While the U.S. housing market has largely recovered from the effects of the subprime mortgage crisis, homes are being built at barely half the rate they were in the early 2000s. The history of the U.S. housing market has been one marked by periods of rampant building and of lulls, even as the population has expanded relatively steadily.
U.S. housing starts in February 2019 clocked in at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.2 million. The rate is less than half the 2.5 million housing starts in 1974 — a time when there were 100 million fewer people living in the country.
The American housing market has not only been through substantial fluctuations in the number of housing units built, but also by changes in the size of homes. Changing family size, rising incomes, and suburban expansion have all led to changes in the size of the typical single-family home.
To determine how the size of homes has changed over the past century, 24/7 Wall St. determined the size of a newly constructed single-family house between 1920 and 2017 by reviewing official U.S. Census figures and providing our own estimates for years the Census did not release numbers.