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Amazing Facts about U.S. Homes & Home Owners,
and the Most Common Styles of Home in the USA

Buying a home is an integral part of American culture, and ranks way up there on most people's idea of the "American Dream." Echoing this, the United States has about 3.75 million homes for sale, and nearly 69 percent of Americans are homeowners, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

home owners

The average price for a single-family home in the United States is $306,258.

The average purchase price for a single-family home in October 2006 was $306,258 (down from $306,759 in October 2005), according to The Federal Housing Finance Board. Although this represents the first time in 12 years that the Board reported a drop in the average price of a home, many still struggle with finding affordable housing.

For instance, families who live in Dupage County, IL, and earn the county's median income of $72,400, cannot afford to purchase a single-family home at the median going rate in the area, $343,500.

"Who needs affordable housing?" asked William Carroll, president of Benedictine University in Lisle, IL. "Bookkeepers, bank tellers, clergy, security guards, claims adjusters, teachers."

House Sizes Increasing, Households Decreasing

The average house in the United States is 2,349 square feet -- more than double the average size in the 1950s. Ironically, now that Americans have bigger houses, there are less people in them. The average number of people living in U.S. households is 2.6 people per home, a new low. (In 1915, for comparison, the average number of people in a household was 4.5.)

Part of the reason for the shrinking household size, experts say, are looser social restrictions that allow families to move apart, and greater finances that give people the ability to do so.

"It's the three Fs -- family, freedom, and finance," said Gil Troy, professor of American history at McGill University in Montreal.

We Own Less of Our Homes

Another trend that's changing the face of American homeowners is a decrease in home equity. The average homeowner now has 56.3 percent equity in their home, according to Demos, a public-interest research group. In 1973, equity averaged out at 68.3 percent, while in the 1950s equity in homes was at 80 percent or more.

The average household in the United States has only 2.6 people -- an all-time low.

Aside from the fact that Americans are taking equity out of their homes (to the tune of $330 billion from 2001 to 2004), homeowners are also putting less in to begin with. It used to be that a standard down-payment on a home was 20 percent. These days, less than half of homebuyers put down 20 percent, according to a 2003 National Association of Realtors (NAR) survey, and many opt for 100 percent -- or 103 percent -- financing.

What's Good About Owning a Home in the U.S.?

Of course, owning a home gives you pride of ownership, a way to build equity and security for your family (the average home increased its value by 88 percent over the last decade, says NAR), and a place to call your own.

In other good news, most Americans are very happy with the neighborhoods they live in, according to a 2005 American Housing Survey. Over 70 percent of participants rated their neighborhood an 8 or above (on a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best)). (The region with the highest rate was the Midwest.)

Dutch Colonials house

Dutch Colonials are one of the most popular house styles in the U.S.

Finally, owning a home gives you a chance to personalize your environment, with paint, permanent fixtures, landscaping … and housing style. According to W. Troy Swezey, realtor and author of "A Guide to America's Most Common Home Styles," the following house styles are among the most prevalent in the United States:

  • Ranch: A one-story, long house (based on early homes from the West and Southwest) that's among the most popular in the country. Raised ranches, which have two levels, are also popular.

  • Cape Cod: A small, 1.5-story symmetrical house with a central entrance.

  • Georgian: A formal-looking rectangular house with two or three stories and classic lines (popular in New England). Georgians are usually made out of red brick and have two chimneys.

  • Tudor: Based on English country cottages, tudors have dark-colored wood timbering set against light-colored stucco, and numerous windows.

  • Queen Anne/Victorian: Two-story houses based on styles from Great Britain. They usually have porches along the front and perhaps side of the house, peaked roofs and ornamental wood trim (sometimes called "gingerbread").

  • Pueblo/Santa Fe Style: A one- or two-story house with a flat roof (and protruding rounded beams) and stucco exterior. Popular in the Southwest, these houses also have covered patios and lots of tile.

  • Dutch Colonial: A two- or 2.5-story house with a gambrel roof and outward-flaring eaves, typically made out of brick or shingles.

  • New England Colonial: A 2.5-story home with a gable roof and small-pane, double-hung windows, typically with wood shutters.

  • Southern Colonial: A large two- or three-story house with large front columns and a wide porch.

  • Split-levels: Houses that have one living level a half a floor above the other (houses with three levels are called tri-levels).

Tudor house

An example of the popular Tudor house style.

Recommended Reading

The Home Construction Materials that Pose the Highest Health Risk to You

Which Home Renovations are Your Best Investments?


U.S. Census Bureau November 30, 2006


National Association of Realtors

A Guide to America's Most Common House Styles

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