Most U.S. Homes Built Before the Reagan Administration

Filed in Economics by on August 17, 2018 1 Comment

With age comes wisdom… along with achy muscles, creaky joints and thinning hair. And as the median age of Americans continues to rise,  so too does the age of the nation’s housing stock.

Girls Playing in Front of 1960s HouseCensus data reveal the median age of owner-occupied housing has increased to 37 years old, meaning half of all homes in the U.S. were built prior to 1980 — before Ronald Reagan took office, before Michael Jackson first performed “Thriller” and long before M*A*S*H aired its last episode.

As NAHB economist Na Zhao wrote in a recent post for Eye On Housing, the aging housing stock is largely the cyclical effect of residential construction’s modest pace combined with ever-rising home prices. Those factors are compelling many home owners to simply stay put and consider updating their current home.

Interestingly, 70% of homes built after 2010 are owned by people under the age of 55, while homes built before 1980 are largely owned by baby boomers. Zhao notes this points to significant growth potential within the aging-in-place market, as home owners increasingly pursue home renovation projects to enable them to live safely and more comfortably as they get older.

For more, go to Eye On Housing.


Comments (1)

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  1. Steven Bradley says:

    Updating existing homes should include soundness, safety and healthy homes issues. Home soundness begins with an examination of rainwater drainage from homes as soil buildup may now cause water to pond or adsorb closer to the foundations. Look at drip lips, gutters, downspouts and drain fields as a first line of defense against settlement, dry rot and declining home life expectancy.

    Older codes or unpermitted additions may not have addressed key safety issues such as inadequate alternative egress from bedrooms, poor or improper combustion air sources/ventilation for gas fired appliances, and missing/inadequate handrails. While updating a home, consider having the fireplace inspected as cracked or shifted flue liners may directly result in carbon monoxide infiltration or fires in the house framing.

    A home that allows healthy living is of course a primary objective for any home owner. Indoor air quality should be considered with any changes to the buildings air envelope. For example, tightening a home to reduce energy consumption may adversely affect carbon dioxide levels found in the home. Inside humidity levels may also rise causing condensation where dry rot and mold can advance. An older home should be carefully surveyed for critter control while also sealing air leaks during a energy improvement update.

    There are a lot of important, but extraneous issues to consider during an update project.

    Steven Bradley
    HUD Consultant #D0943

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