An Aging Housing Stock

The American owner-occupied housing stock is growing older. And this fact may signal future increased demand for both remodeling and new home construction over the long-term.

Data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS) reveal that the median age of an owner-occupied home in the United States was 34 years old as of the 2009 survey. This is 11 years older than the median age reported by the 1985 AHS (23 years old).

The 2009 AHS is the most recent available. However, another Census data set, the 2010 American Community Survey, indicates that the median age of an owner-occupied home increased to 35 in 2010. And this median age will continue to increase given historically low levels of housing construction.

According to the 2009 AHS, more than 40% of the owner-occupied housing stock in the U.S. is at least 40 years old. This is a significant increase over the 1985 data, when about 25% of the housing stock was at least 40 years old.

This last graph shows total counts of owner-occupied housing units by year of construction. The differences for the stock built before 1985 between the 1985 AHS and the 2009 AHS indicate the amount of housing withdrawn from service via conversion or replacement. While a large amount of new housing was constructed after 1985 (35% of owner-occupied homes as of 2009), the fact remains that a substantial portion of the U.S. housing was constructed 40 to 70 years ago (29% of the total).

Among other differences, such homes are less energy-efficient than new construction and will require remodeling or replacement in the years ahead.

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0 replies

  1. The American Housing Survey is funded and directed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is conducted by the Census Bureau under contract with HUD. Thus, it is inaccurate to refer to the AHS as “the Census Bureau’s.” It should be called a HUD survey, or a joint HUD/Census survey.


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