HUD Releases 2009 American Housing Survey

July 22, 2010

Most families with young children live within a mile of a public elementary school. The most common home heating fuel in the U.S. is gas. Only a third of American homes have a working carbon monoxide detector.

These are just some of the findings of a comprehensive national sample of the more than 130 million residential housing units released today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HUD's 2009 American Housing Survey (AHS) reveals everything from the square footage of the unit to how many U.S. homes have front porches, garages or even usable fireplaces. First conducted in 1973, the survey’s long-term design allows analysts to trace the characteristics of U.S. housing units and their occupants.

For example, the 2009 survey reveals that significantly more American homes are larger and have more bedrooms and bathrooms than homes 37 years ago. In addition, homes of 1973 were significantly less likely to have central air conditioning and other amenities considered commonplace today.

“The numbers behind this survey not only provide valuable information on the composition of our housing stock, but they also help us monitor the mortgage markets, measure worst-case housing needs, and inform our policy choices,” says Dr. Raphael Bostic, HUD’s assistant secretary for policy development and research.

Some key findings:

  • There are 130,112,000 residential housing units in the U.S., 86% of which are occupied.
  • The median age of the American home is 36 years, though the survey finds that homes newly constructed since the 2007 AHS are generally larger, more expensive, have more bedrooms and bathrooms, and are more likely to include amenities such as central air conditioning.
  • 68% of U.S. homes are owner-occupied;
  • 51% are located in suburban areas, 29% in central cities, and 20% outside metropolitan areas;
  • 18% of U.S. homes are located in the Northeast, 23% in the Midwest, 37% in the South, and 22% in the West.
  • The median size of an occupied home is 1,800 square feet (compared to 1,610 in 1985), with owner-occupied units being larger than renter-occupied ones. Newer Homes are also usually larger, with median size of 2,300 square feet.
  • Median lot size for single-family homes, including mobile homes, is 0.27 acres (compared to .36 acres in 1973) with owner-occupied units generally having more land than renter-occupied ones.