I watch a lot of HGTV--especially "House Hunters." I am always curious if the houses they feature all over the country represent the typical American home. Also, is the demand depicted on the show for the ideal home featuring at least two bathrooms, a home office, and a "bonus" room or man cave representative of the actual market? Fortunately, some of these questions can be answered examining the US Census Bureau's 2011 American Housing Survey released this month.
Out of curiousity I decided to compare the 2011 data to 1985 (the Housing Survey dates back to 1973). In 1985, the median square footage of a single detached home was 1,636. In 2011, the median square footage has increased to 1800 (providing the average household an additional 100+ sq. ft. per occupant). The majority of homes in 1985 had 4-5 rooms versus 2011 with the majority of homes having 6 or more rooms (not including bathrooms). The most significant change is the number of bathrooms per home. Since 1973, the average home had 1 bathroom. Now, the average home has at least 2 bathrooms. What is that about? Lifestyle changes, privacy, aspirational?