Information obtained from the public-use microdata files provided by the US Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction (SOC) and tabulated by NAHB, shows that there is a greater share of two or more story homes completed than one story homes. In addition, the greatest share of two or more story homes are in divisions along the coasts of the country. Analysis of the data shows that the Northeast region has a significantly higher proportion of two or more story single-family home completions compared to its counterparts across the country. Similarly, the Pacific Division, a component of the West Region, also has a noticeably higher proportion of two or more story homes completed.
The Survey of Construction (SOC) is a monthly and annual report released by the US Census Bureau that records valuable information related to the homebuilding industry. This information includes variables such as start and completion dates, sales price, square footage and number of bedrooms. SOC data is used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to evaluate housing programs as well as by the Federal Reserve Board to determine the state of the economy as a whole.
Nationwide, the majority of single-family homes completed in 2015 were two or more stories, 58%, the rest, 42%, were one story. The data show that the Northeast has the largest proportion of completed two or more story single-family homes. The distributions between one story and two or more story completed homes are similar in the South and the West. In the South, 57% of completed single-family homes were two or more stories and 43% were one story while in the West, 59% of completed single-family homes were two or more stories and the rest, 41%, were one story. The Midwest was the only region of the country where the majority of single-family completed homes were one story.
In contrast to the nationwide distribution between one story and two or more story completed homes, a recent NAHB report chronicling consumers’ housing preferences finds that most, 64% of all buyers, would prefer a single-story home, however it is important to point out that this result is driven primarily by older buyers that may be exhibiting a preference for single-story homes due to aging-in-place concerns. According to NAHB’s Housing Preferences of the Boomer Generation, 75% of boomers and 88% of seniors want one floor living, but fewer than half of millennials, 35%, and generation X’ers, 49%, prefer a one story home.
Looking deeper, the similarities between the West and the South mask differences between the Census divisions that compose each region. While overall, 59% of single-family completed homes in the West were two or more stories, 69% were two or more stories in the Pacific Division while fewer than half, 47% were two or more stories in the Mountain Division. Similarly, while 57% of single-family completed homes were two or more stories across the entire South region, 66% of completed homes in the South Atlantic were two or more stories. In contrast, fewer than half of completed homes in the West South Central division were two or more stories. In the East South Central 58% of homes were two or more stories.
The map below illustrates how two or more story homes account for the largest portion of completed homes in coastal divisions of the country, New England, Middle Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Pacific. The high share of two or more story completed homes in the Northeast, encompassing the New England and Middle Atlantic divisions, may partly reflect expensive lot values. Recent NAHB analysis found that median lot values in the New England and Middle Atlantic divisions far surpasses lot values elsewhere in the country. At the same time higher density and land constraints may also have contributed to a higher proportion of two or more story homes across coastal divisions.