Al’s column

HomeEditorialsAl's column

HOME NUMBERS: Unless you skipped the first five pages of this issue, you’re already aware this is FCNews’ annual statistical issue and is filled with numbers and information defining how the flooring industry did in 2011—as a whole as well as by category along with other pertinent figures. So it is only fitting we look at how the housing market did, since it is such a major factor in how the industry fared. These numbers can help complete the painting on some of the information presented in this issue in terms of providing a better understanding as to why something went up or down for the year. If nothing else, they provide some additional fodder for the water cooler. All housing information came from the U.S. Census Bureau.


GOING UP: After three straight years of declines, the size of the average single-family house completed went up, from 2,392 square feet in 2010 to 2,480 square feet in 2011, a 3.7% increase. It was also the highest average since 2008 when new homes averaged 2,519 square feet. In the four regions looked at by the Census Bureau, average sizes went up in all but the Northeast compared to 2010, though at 2,559 square feet (-2% over 2010), it is still home to the country’s largest dwellings, followed by the South, 2,538 square feet (6.1%); the West, 2,457 square feet (3%), and the Midwest, 2,287 square feet (1%).


PRICES DOWN: After seeing the average sales price of new single-family homes go up in 2010 to $272,900, prices fell 1.8% across the country in 2011 to $267,000. That is the lowest level since 2003, when the average house sold for $246,300. Regionally, both the Northeast and West saw average prices fall to $389,900 (-6.2%) and $301,800 (-4.7%) respectively, while the Midwest and South rose to $241,700 (3.8%) and 248,900 (1.6%), respectively. Breaking it down by the square foot, the average price for new single-family homes fell to $83.38 in 2011, compared to $84.07 in 2010. When looked at in this method, only the West had a decline in the average price per square foot, from $102.75 in 2010 to $96.12 last year. In the Northeast, the price per foot went from $111.01 to $111.37; in the Midwest it rose from $85.24 to $87.53, and in the South, the figure went from $75.72 to $76.73.


ROOMS AND MORE: In looking at all the single-family homes completed last year, 39% had four or more bedrooms, while 48% of them had three bedrooms. Interestingly, in 2010, 35% had four or more bedrooms, and 52% of them had three bedrooms. And, of the single-family homes completed with four or more bedrooms, 57% had at least three bathrooms (in 2010, it was 53%). The majority (54%) of the houses built had two or more stories, a slight increase over 2010 (52%), and 30% of the homes had a full or partial basement.


MULTIFAMILY: Many flooring executives pointed to the multifamily housing market as one of the bright spots in 2011. The majority of the business most likely came from replacement work as the number of new units completed in 2011 was down 11% compared to 2010, from 155,000 to 138,000. Though there was not as many, the ones built last year were, by average, larger than those in 2010, from 1,388 square feet to 1,408 square feet. Region-ally, the largest structures were in the South at 1,670 square feet, followed by the Midwest, 1,470 square feet; then the West, 1,414 square feet, and last, the Northeast at 1,355 square feet.


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