Demographic Shifts Are Changing What’s Considered Desirable in Homes

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR Magazine

Married couples no longer hold the majority in households. In 1960, married couples made up 75 percent of total households. In 2010, that percentage has dropped to 48 percent, according to U.S. Census data.

Meanwhile, “family households”–which includes married couples with no children–has bloomed from 45.1 million in 1960 to 77.5 million in 2010. And non-family households (people living alone or households where no one is related) has soared–increasing nearly five times in the last 50 years–from 7.9 million in 1960 to 39.2 million in 2010.

“These significant demographic shifts create opportunities to design and sell homes to a growing group who cannot find what they want in the resale market because the resale market was primarily built for families,” according to a report by John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

So given the growth in non-family households, what do these potential home buyers desire? Here are some of the findings from John Burns Real Estate Consulting:

Smaller home size. Non-family households tend to want less space than a family household–opting for a home under 2,500 square feet. A recent survey also found that more than two-thirds of non-family households tend to want no more than three bedrooms in a home too.

Location is key. Non-family households want a good location near work, entertainment, and shops. In fact, they consider the location more important than the size of the home.

Nothing over-the-top. Non-family households are less likely to choose extra amenities like media rooms, community pools, and tot lots.

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. Theresa


    Many families are carring for parents and their children’s children due to the loss of income or foreclosures. What will the new builders bring to the real estate market to help make this affordable.


  2. Steve Devore

    More and more people are working from home. Extra bedrooms make great home offices. We are a couple with no children; we both work from home. We found a large in-town Atlanta home in foreclosure and are using two of the five bedrooms as home offices. I can understand no more than 3 bedrooms if both are working away from home, but a larger home makes sense for couples working from home, a growing trend, I would think.