Real Estate Data for the Rest of Us

articles about “Demographics

America’s Dream Home: Midsized, Suburban and Modern

Americans are surprisingly practical when it comes to their dream homes. Being married and having children is one of the biggest drivers of homeownership, but age will likely determine the type of homes that people want.

For many Americans, homeownership is part of their personal American Dream. For some, this dream of owning a home is well within reach, but for others it may as well be a dream within a dream. But what does this dream home look like? And where is located? What amenities do people dream of most? To find out, an online survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Trulia surveyed 2,026 Americans in late May 2015 to tell us about their homeownership aspirations and the home they hope to buy one day. Here’s what we found.

First Comes Marriage, Then Comes Baby and House
With the U.S. housing market on the mend, 7 in 10 Americans (71%) said owning a home is part of achieving their personal “American Dream.” While still a majority, this is a notable decrease from 77% in 2010. Yet despite this downward trend, America is not becoming a nation of renters. Most Millennial renters aged 18-34 (89%) plan to buy a home one day – more than any other generation.

American Dream Home_WhoWantsToBuy

But as more people today forgo or delay marriage and children, homeownership has become more of a lifestyle choice than an expected life milestone. Among parents with children under 18 years old, 81% said homeownership is part of their American Dream. In fact, most parents – regardless of their marital status – plan to buy a home as their primary residence once day.

American Dream Home_KidsDriveHomeownership

More than 7 in 10 Millennials Plan to Buy in 2018 or Later
While many Americans aspire to become homeowners, most are not ready to buy a home. Only 14% of those who plan to buy say they will do so within the next year. Most (69%) plan to wait at least two years.

In tracking the housing recovery, the intentions of Millennials has been a key indicator that we’ve been following. Why? This generation of first-time homebuyers was hit hard during the recession, and their ability to find jobs, move out of their parents’ homes and form their own households, and eventually become homeowners is a key part of a healthy housing market. Of the 18-34 years old who aspire to become homeowners, 72% said they plan to buy a home in 2018 or later. The sense of urgency only increased when marriage and children were involved.

American Dream Home_When

When Do You Plan to Buy (Another) Home as Your Primary Residence?
All Married without Kids Under 18 Married with Kids Under 18
Within the next 6 months 4% 6% 9%
7-12 months from now 7% 10% 18%
13-24 months from now 17% 29% 20%
More than 2 years from now 72% 55% 53%
Note: Among Millennials (18-34 year old) who plan purchase a home

So what’s holding Millennials back from homeownership? Money. Only 36% of Millennials are currently saving up to buy a home in the next five years. Most (52%) have their eyes on a new car, while others have shifted their priorities towards college tuition (35%), a trip of a lifetime (26%), a wedding (15%), retirement (9%) or an engagement ring (8%). Nevertheless, this generation remains optimistic with 87% believing that they will be able to purchase their dream home one day.

Most Americans Aren’t Dreaming About McMansions or Tiny Homes
Only a small subset of Americans (just 35% of homeowners) said they’ve already purchased their dream homes – that means an overwhelming majority are still searching for a perfect place to call “dream home”. In fact, over one quarter of Americans are regularly searching for a dream home online with 28% looking at least once a month. So what does the American dream home look like? Well, it really depends on how old you are.

In general, Americans aren’t big fans of McMansions or tiny homes. In fact, 44% want a home between 1,401 and 2,600 square feet – one that’s neither too small, nor too big. However, as people get older, their dream home gets smaller.

American Dream Home_HomeSize

How Big Is Your Dream Home?
All Millennials (18-34 Year Olds) Gen X (35-54 Year Olds) Baby Boomers (55+ Year Olds)
800-1,400 square feet 10% 5% 7% 15%
1,401-2,000 square feet 21% 17% 18% 25%
2,001-2,600 square feet 23% 20% 24% 24%
2,601-3,200 square feet 14% 16% 15% 11%
More than 3,200 square feet 11% 12% 14% 7%
Not Sure 22% 29% 22% 17%

Moreover, Millennials and Gen X gravitate towards modern homes, which can often have newer home amenities and technologies. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, want ranch homes (aka single-story homes that are typically more accessible and without stairs).

And contrary to what you might think, only 6% of millennials would prefer a high-rise penthouse. That said, they are still 6X more likely to prefer this type of home than any other generations – even those with kids under 18. Similarly, only 4% of millennials dream of converted lofts, while Baby Boomers have no affinity for converted lofts at all.

American Dream Home_Style

What Does Your Dream Home Look Like?


Millennials (18-34 Year Olds) Gen X (35-54 Year Olds) Baby Boomers (55+ Years Old)
Modern Style Home 18% 22% 17% 16%
Ranch Home 15% 6% 13% 23%
Victorian or Craftsman Style Home 11% 13% 12% 7%
Farm House or Log Cabin 10% 10% 11% 9%
Colonial or Southern Plantation Style Home 8% 8% 8% 7%
High-rise penthouse apartment 3% 6% 1% 1%
Converted Loft 2% 4% 1% 0%


31% 37%


Note: “Other” includes options such as Mediterranean style home, townhouse and houseboat, as well as other.

Americans Dream of Suburbs Over Cities
When describing where their dream home is located, most Americans wanted to live in the countryside (27%) and suburbs (27%) rather than in the heart of a major American city (8%). This was especially true for Baby Boomers and Gen X. But for Millennials, living a short commute to work (34%) and in a great school district (34%) were far more important that the actual location. But generational differences aside, there were some notable geographical preferences.

American Dream Home_GeoLocation

Top Dream Home Amenities: Decks, Gourmet Kitchens and Open Floor Plans
Americans love to entertain and eat. The top dream home features were social spaces where guests could gather and mingle, namely a backyard deck, open floor plan, or balcony with a view. Food-related amenities like a gourmet kitchen or vegetable garden were also popular. But as for private spaces, 44% of men wanted a man cave whereas only 17% women wanted a she shed (aka, a recreational room for the ladies).

American Dream Home_Amenities

Top “Dream Home” Features
% of Americans Who Want This Feature % of Homes Listed for Sale on Trulia as Having This Feature in the Last Year
Backyard Deck 59% 8.5%
Gourmet Kitchen 47% 2.0%
Open Floor Plan 46% 3.9%
Balcony with a View 45% 1.3%
Vegetable Garden 40% 0.1%

Millennials, compared to any other generation, want it all. Given the option, 18-34 year olds would like all the latest and greatest amenities in their dream home – especially want a balcony with a view.

Top “Dream Home” Features for Millennials
Balcony with a View 60%
Backyard Deck 59%
Gourmet Kitchen 53%
Swimming Pool 52%
Open Floor Plan 45%

Generation X, however, followed the national trend with most wanting a backyard deck. The only variation was that 35-54 year olds preferred having a swimming pool over a vegetable garden.

Top “Dream Home” Features for Gen X
Backyard Deck 65%
Gourmet Kitchen 50%
Open Floor Plan 47%
Balcony with a View 46%
Swimming Pool 44%

Similar to Generation X, Baby Boomers want a backyard deck, open floor plan and gourmet kitchen. But unlike other generations, the 55+ age group has a green thumb with 37% wanting a vegetable garden.

Top “Dream Home” Features for Baby Boomers
Backyard Deck 55%
Open Floor Plan 46%
Gourmet Kitchen 41%
Vegetable Garden 37%
Balcony with a View 33%

All in all, Americans are pretty realistic and practical when it comes what they want in their dream home. Most people aren’t looking for a grand mansion, tiny home or even a home with an iconic architectural style – they want a mid-sized, modern home in the suburbs with a backyard deck. This is likely because the dream of homeownership is largely driven by marriage and children. Having a duel income makes buying a home more affordable, while parents often want the stability that comes with owning a home. As a result, many would-be homeowners dream of finding a home where they can raise their families. Such is the game of life.


This survey was conducted online within the United States between May 26th and 28th, 2015 among 2,026 adults (aged 18 and over) by Harris Poll on behalf of Trulia via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, the words “margin of error” are avoided as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.


Where Do Wild Turkeys Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Ever wonder where turkeys lucky enough to survive Thanksgiving can be found? We set out to find the answer by looking at the annual USGS Breeding Bird Survey. If you’d like to find a turkey someplace other than the dinner table on Thanksgiving, the best place in the US, statistically speaking, is Roger Mills, OK. It averaged over 28 wild turkeys counted during the USGS 2.5-hour survey period. In fact, counties in Oklahoma and Kansas stuffed the top 10 list of the most turkey-populated places in the U.S.

Top 10 counties where Turkeys spend their Thanksgiving, 2004-2013
Rank County State Avg # of Turkeys During 2.5 Hour Period
1 Roger Mills Oklahoma 28.6
2 Beckham Oklahoma 22.5
3 Geary Kansas 21
4 Lincoln Nebraska 17.2
5 Kenedy Texas 15.7
6 Clark Kansas 14.9
7 Greer Oklahoma 14.1
8 Osborne Kansas 10.3
9 Russell Kansas 10.3
10 Ellis/Woodward (tie) Kansas 10.1

Among states, Kansas teems with more turkeys than any place else. Over 10 years, an average of nearly 3.2 gobblers was sighted along all survey routes in the Sunflower State during the survey periods, compared with 2.3 in runner-up Wisconsin. In fact, all but one of the top 10 turkey states are outside the US heartland – Connecticut.


10-year Average of Turkeys Observed During USGS Survey Period, by County


Top 10 states where Turkeys spend their Thanksgiving, 2004-2013
Rank State Avg # of Turkeys During 2.5 Hour Period
1 Kansas 3.2
2 Wisconsin 2.3
3 Oklahoma 2.1
4 Nebraska 2
5 Missouri 1.4
6 Kentucky 1.3
7 Michigan 1.1
8 Connecticut 1
9 Tennessee 0.9
10 South Dakota 0.8

We’ve also gathered the names and locations of self-styled turkey capitals in the US. Gobblers can be found hanging out in large numbers near these turkey-happy places, such as Turkey, TX; Barron, WI (turkey capital of Wisconsin); Fairview, MI (wild turkey Capital of Michigan); and, last but not least, Cuero, TX, which, perhaps immodestly, calls itself the turkey capital of the world. But turkeys are also giving thanks for their freedom this Thanksgiving in other parts of the country too. Areas of central Florida, northern California, and the Northeast also have dense populations of wild turkeys.

Named Turkey Capitals of the US
Turkey Capital Slogan
Barron, WI Turkey Capital of WI
Boscobel, WI Turkey Hunting Capital of WI
Berryville, AR Turkey Capital
Cuero, TX Turkey Capital of the World
Fairview, MI Wild Turkey Capital of MI
North Andover, MA Turkey Town
Turkey, KY Namesake
Turkey, NC Namesake
Turkey, TX Namesake
Turkey Creek, LA Namesake
Worthington, MN Turkey Capital of the World

So, this Turkey Day, tip your hat to your dinner’s free-ranging cousin, our unofficial national fowl. Happy Thanksgiving from Trulia!


To estimate the average number of turkeys found at the state and county level, we used the USGS Breeding Bird Survey route data from 2004-2013 to calculate an “average of averages,” whereby the state or county average is the average of all surveyed routes’ 10-year average of observed turkeys within that state or county. Note: Although the BBS consists of over 4,000 survey routes randomly distributed across the U.S., there is variation in the number of survey routes sampled in each state and county, both over space and time. As such, the actual abundance of turkeys at the county level may deviate from our estimates.


More Millennials Leave Parental Nest, Without Lifting Housing Market

Although slightly fewer young adults are living in their parents’ homes, don’t get too excited. Fewer are heading their own households, and the true young adult homeownership rate slipped in 2014.

This morning, the Census Bureau released 2014 data that show whether Americans own, rent, or live under someone else’s roof. (See note.) As we’ve pointed out before, the published homeownership rate is often a misleading guide to what’s really happening in the housing market. For instance, suppose young people move out of their parents’ homes into rental apartments. That would lower the published homeownership rate because the number of renters has increased – even though the number of young homeowners is unchanged.

Using these fresh 2014 data, we update several key measures of housing and living arrangements, including:

  1. the percentage of young people living with their parents;
  2. the headship rate, which is the percentage of adults who head a household, either as an owner or a renter;
  3. our “true” homeownership rate, which equals the percentage of adults who are homeowners.

These three measures are closely related. If young people move out of their parents’ homes and become either renters or homeowners, the share of young adults living with parents goes down, while the headship rate for young adults goes up. Furthermore, the true homeownership rate equals the published homeownership rate times the headship rate – and therefore takes into account whether people are dropping out of or entering the housing market. Thus, it gives a clearer picture of whether the housing market is recovering. With that overview, here’s what the new 2014 data show.

True Young-Adult Homeownership Rate Falls in 2014, Reversing 2013 Increase
Let’s start with those millennials in the basement. They’re still there, but, ever so slowly, more are moving out. In 2014, 31.1% of 18-34 year-olds lived with their parents, down slightly from 31.2% in 2013 and from the peak of 31.6% in 2012.

1834LivingWithParents … continue reading

1 comment

The Recession’s Lost Generation of Homeowners Isn’t Millennials – It’s the Middle-Aged

Though the published homeownership rate for young adults is still falling, true homeownership among young adults started rising in 2013. Adjusted for longer-term demographic shifts, young-adult homeownership is now at pre-bubble levels, but middle-aged homeownership is lagging.

The latest Census data shows homeownership is still falling for young adults, and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the share of first-time home-buyers is slipping. While the housing market is clearly improving, with four of the five key indicators of the housing recovery from our Housing Barometer at least halfway back to normal, it looks like the recovery is happening even without much improvement in first-time homeownership. Does that mean the housing recovery isn’t for real?

Not so fast. The official homeownership rate published by the Census gives a misleading picture of homeownership trends. In fact, homeownership among young adults is both on the rise and not too far off from where demographics say it should be. To see this, we did two things in this analysis: (1) account for changes in household formation to get a true measure of homeownership, and (2) adjust for longer-term demographic shifts to compare homeownership levels today with pre-bubble levels.

The answer: our “true” homeownership rate disagrees with the published homeownership rate, and shows that homeownership among young adults increased between 2012 and 2013 after hitting bottom in 2012. However, once we adjust for the huge demographic shifts among young adults – far fewer young adults are married or have kids than two or three decades ago – homeownership in 2013 was roughly at late-1990s levels. That means that the demographic shifts among young adults account for the entire decline in homeownership for 18-34 year-olds over the last twenty years. In other words, if the pre-bubble years of the late 1990s can be considered relatively normal, than today’s lower homeownership rate for young adults might be the new normal, thanks to demographic changes.

But that doesn’t mean all’s well. There may be longer-term damage to homeownership from the recession – but to the middle-aged, not millennials. Homeownership among 35-54 year-olds is lower today than before the housing bubble, even after accounting for demographic shifts. Here’s why.

Young Adult Homeownership Actually On the Rise
The published homeownership rate equals the share of households that own their home instead of rent. It does not, however, capture changes in whether people are dropping out of the housing market to live under someone else’s roof, like those millennials in their parents’ basement, who – in case you missed it – are for real. But if, say, people move out of their parents’ homes and into their own rental apartments, the published homeownership rate would still be falling even if the share of young adults who own remains the same.

Instead, we looked at the true homeownership rate, which equals the number of owner-occupied households divided by the number of all adults; in contrast, the published homeownership rate equals the number of owner-occupied households divided by the number of all households. Of course, the true homeownership rate is always going to be much lower – by half or more – than the published homeownership rate because there are roughly twice as many adults as there are households. The key point, though, is that the published and true homeownership rates can move in different directions if the number of adults per household is changing. That is, in fact, what happened during the recession and recovery (see note #1).

During the recession, as more young people moved in with their parents and fewer headed their own households, published homeownership rate fell from 44.1% in 2005 to 36.8% in 2012 – the 7-point decline was a 17% drop in homeownership. (What we’re calling “published” numbers actually differ slightly from the quarterly and annual homeownership estimates by age group published by the Census – see note #2.) However, the published rate understated the decline: the true homeownership rate for young adults fell from 17.2% in 2005 to 13.5% in 2012 – a drop of 22%.

Then, during the recovery, more young people started to form their own households, primarily as renters. The additional renters pushed the published homeownership rate for 18-34 year-olds down further in 2013 to its lowest level since our analysis begins in 1983:


… continue reading


Basement-Dwelling Millennials Are For Real

Although a key Census survey counts students in dorms as living with parents, increased college enrollment and dormitory living do not account for the increase in millennials living under their parents’ roofs. Alternative analyses confirm that in the recession millennials have been much more likely to live with their parents than in the past.

The share of millennials – that is, 18-34 year-olds – living with their parents reached a many-decade high during the recession. Last week, an article suggested that these statistics are “criminally misleading” in overstating the increase in millennials actually living with parents because (1) they count dorm-dwelling college students as living with their parents and (2) college enrollment among young people has risen significantly.

Both these points are true: the Current Population Survey’s (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) counts college students who are living in dorms as living with their parents, and college enrollment has indeed gone up. But it does not follow that basement-dwelling millennials are a myth. The ASEC and other Census data show that after adjusting for college enrollment and for dormitory living, millennials were more likely to live with parents in 2012 and 2013 than at any other time for which a consistent data series is available (1986 or 1990, depending on the data source).

Revisiting the ASEC Data
The ASEC counts college students who are living in dorms as living with their parents, so it’s impossible to separate out the dorm-dwellers who were reported as living with parents from college students actually living with their parents full-time. But the survey also reports whether 18-24 year-olds are enrolled in college (in survey years 1986 onward). As a first step, we can exclude all full-time college students from the analysis to make sure we’re not including any dorm-dwellers. Excluding full-time college students, the share of millennials living with parents is still far higher during the recession than at any other time since 1986.


… continue reading