For those who are crazy about housing data will dig this:

Writers, researchers, and those interested in housing market data have a great new tool to work (or play) with, courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The American FactFinder data access tool, an interactive source of information gathered from the 2011 American Housing Survey (AHS) has a wealth of information on the nation’s homes and how their occupants live in, finance, and feel about them.

A wide range of specific topics is available in the database including the age of the nation’s housing stock, home size and features including those for accessibility, socio-economic characteristics of the householder, purchase price and type of mortgage, housing problems, and recent home improvement activity.

The tool is easy to use and to customize for specific searches.  For example, a visitor seeking information on mortgages can quickly determine how many people over the age of 65 have reverse mortgages (417,000) or the number of outstanding mortgages in the Northeast region with interest rates exceeding 8 percent (389,000).  The number and type of first mortgages and home equity loans outstanding (right down to whether they are the regular or lump sum variety, credit limits, and the distribution of monthly payments); mortgage balances, loan-to-value ratios, and dozens of other home financing facts.  Data is broken down by region, very broad definitions of ethnicity, inside/outside MSAs, and is available for both manufactured and conventional housing.

HUD and the Census provided us examples of other factoids that can be found using the tool:

  • The median year American homes were built was 1974, with owner-occupied units being slightly newer (1976 compared with 1972 for renter-occupied).
  • Single family homes and mobile homes have a median size of 1,800 square feet. Newer homes are larger (2,200) and owner occupied homes at 1,800 feet are larger than rented homes (1,300 square feet.)
  • Sixty-four percent of homes have at least three bedrooms as do 74 percent of homes built within the last four years. Fifty-two percent of all homes have two or more bathrooms and 83 percent of newer homes.
  • About two-thirds of homes have central air conditioning; eight in 10 units have a washing machine and clothes dryer.
  • Many homes have features to accommodate disabilities. Sixty-four percent had floors with no steps between rooms, 48 percent had entry level bathrooms, and 36 percent had first floor bedrooms.
  • Americans like their homes; 71 percent give them at least an eight on a 10 point scale and 29 percent rate them at 10. Residents of new construction like their homes even better; 46 percent give their homes a 10.
  • On average, households pay $927 per month, or 24 percent of their household income, for housing. The cost is higher for residents of new construction, with median cost being $1,340 per month or 24 percent of household income. Renters generally pay less in housing cost ($845 versus $1,008 for owners per month), but a higher percentage of their household income (31 percent versus 20 percent for owners).
  • More than a fifth (21 percent) of all primary mortgage holders reported a change in their monthly payment in the last 12 months. The main reason for their payment change was because of a change in property taxes or homeowners insurance (71 percent).
  • Of the 43,740 owned homes in which a home improvement had been made in the last two years, 35 percent replaced or added an appliance or some type of major equipment, 19 percent replaced or added plumbing fixtures and 17 percent replaced or added a heating and air-conditioning system.


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