Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.
For all the growth in cities, new housing still looks incredibly suburban.
Here’s a curious detail from the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest survey on new housing trends, one that’s extremely relevant for summer: The U.S. is experiencing an explosion in sales of homes with patios. Beer me, then check out these data.
The annual national survey of construction report relays information about single- and multi-family housing construction and sales across the nation. This year, for the first time ever, the report includes statistics on the outdoor features of new single-family homes sold. The survey includes five years’ worth of data on patios, porches, and decks, from 2010 through 2014.
Houses with patios are moving the market. Some 96,000 houses with patios were sold in 2014, up from 59,000 houses in 2010. Houses with porches and houses with decks haven’t fared nearly as well. All in all, 22 percent of the houses sold in 2014 came with a patio, a larger share than houses that with a deck (6 percent) or a porch (16 percent, a share that’s fallen since 2010).
Get this: About one-third of single-family homes that sold in the U.S. in 2014 came with a patio and a porch—which is another way of saying that most homes sold in the U.S. continue to be large and detached. Most of the homes sold in recent years are big and growing bigger: In 2014, 83 percent of single-family homes were larger than 1,800 square feet in floor area; 55 percent of the homes were larger than 2,400 square feet in floor area.
Meanwhile, new apartments and condos are small and shrinking. Nearly half (49 percent) of the multifamily units built in 2011 were between 1,200 to 1,799 square feet in area, but that share has fallen to 27 percent in 2014. Some 66 percent of multifamily units are under 1,199 square feet, and 38 percent are smaller than 1,000 square feet.
Apartment units are getting smaller and the number of units in a building isn’t growing very much. Meanwhile, loads of people who buy houses get a patio, at a minimum. For all the growth in cities, new housing still looks incredibly suburban.