Who Lives in New Housing?

April is New Homes Month, so we thought we would take a look at the demographic data from the most recent edition of the American Housing Survey (AHS) to see who lives in newly constructed homes. The AHS defines new construction as housing units no more than four years of age.

Typically, larger households are relatively more likely to live in new homes. This is a finding that complements previous NAHB analysis that examined home size and geography.

The graph above reports the percentages of various types of housing (owner-occupied, renter-occupied and newly constructed, both owner and rental) with respect to the number of people who reside in each. For example, the first blue bar shows that about 22% of owner-occupied homes contain one person, while thse second blue bar notes that 36% of owner-occupied homes contain two people.

It is clear that renters are most likely to be one person households. Similarly, two-person households are the most common type for homeowners. The two-person household is also the most common form for new construction, with 33% of newly constructed homes holding two-person households. 

On a relative basis, a greater share of new construction houses three persons or more compared to homes of  homeowners or renters. This can be seen by noting that the green bars in the chart above are higher than the blue and red bars for households with 3 or more people. In fact, 47% of all new construction houses three or more people.


The short answer is that new construction is more likely to house children than other types of housing on a unit-by-unit basis. As can be seen on the graph above, new construction has the largest shares of homes for all counts of children.  Specifically, 44% of newly constructed units house children. Only 35% of rental units and 34% of owner-occupied units house children.

And this in turn helps explain the age distribution of people who live in new homes. The AHS data indicate large relative shares for new housing with respect to households headed by people aged 30 to 44. And it is worth noting, this is the age segment for whom, as a share of household income, the mortgage interest deduction offers the largest benefits. It is also prime parenting years. Renting households tend to be younger and owner-occupiers as a class tend to be older.

Overall, 78% of heads of households who live in new construction are aged 54 or younger, compared to 56% for all owner-occupied housing. However, these statistics may change in the coming years as more 50+ new housing construction gains strength.

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