Al’s column

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by FCNews staff

HOUSING STATS: Being that this is FCNews’ annual statistics issue, here are some miscellaneous figures from the U.S. Census Bureau concerning new housing in 2010: The average single-family house completed was 2,392 square feet. This was the third consecutive year the average square footage of a home went down. In 2009, it was 2,438 square feet and, in 2008, it was 2,519 square feet. This is just the second time since 1973 that new houses shrunk in size for three consecutive years—the last time was 1980 to 1982, when the average home went from 1,760 square feet in 1979 to 1,740 in 1980, 1,720 in ’81 and 1,710 in ’82. While a new home in 2010 was still 40% larger than one built in 1982, the current three-year decline has been steeper, 5.1% compared to 2.8%.

PRICES RISE: Interestingly, while the size of the average house continues to fall, the average sales price of new single-family homes sold last year actually went up, from $270,900 in 2009 to $272,900. While this increase is minuscule, it reversed a three-year trend in which the average selling price dropped—in 2008 the average price was $292,600 and, in 2007, it was $313,600. According to the Census Bureau, the most recent declines marked only the second time since 1978 in which the average selling price of a house was lower than the year before. The only other time this happened was in the early 1990s, when prices fell from $149,800 in 1990 to $147,200 in 1991, and $144,100 in 1990.

REGIONAL DISPARITY: Taking a close look at the data, it is interesting to see the differences in both average home size and selling price among the four regions considered by the Census Bureau—Northeast, Midwest, South and West—as well as how these figures compare to previous years. For instance, in terms of average selling price, except for the West, each region saw a slight gain over 2009—the Northeast came in at the most expensive, $415,800, and up from 2009’s $411,300; followed by the West at $316,600, down from $321,600; then the South at $244,900, up from $241,200, and finally, the Midwest at $232,800, up from $227,700.

MORE DISPARITY: When it comes to the average size of the house, the Northeast (2,613 square feet) and the Midwest (2,265 square feet), saw gains in 2010 over 2009, 19 square feet and 49 square feet, respectively, while the South (2,393 square feet) and the West (2,386 square feet) experienced declines of 95 square feet and 48 square feet, respectively. In terms of the price per square foot that people paid for their new homes, the overall average was $84.07, up from $83.89 in 2009. On a regional basis, the Northeast was the most expensive at $111.05 per square foot, up 65 cents from 2009; followed by the West at $102.75 and, surprisingly, up from 2009’s $101.74 per square foot. The Mid- west experienced the largest dollar gain, $1.54, year-over- year, going from $83.70 to $85.24, while the South saw the only drop, going from $76.77 in 2009 to $75.72 last year.

ROOM SPACE: Of the single-family homes completed last year, 35% had four or more bedrooms, while 52% of them had three bedrooms. With regard to the homes that had four or more bedrooms, 53% of them had three or more bathrooms. A little more than half the homes completed last year (52%) had two or more stories. In addition, 30% of single-family homes completed in 2010 had either a full or partial basement, meaning one-third of the new homes provided an additional opportunity to sell flooring.

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