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US Household Shifts Could Impact Housing Recovery
| July 08, 2011 | 02:33 PM EDT

Every now and then you need to take a step back and put the housing market into perspective, take a break from all the monthly motions and commotions, stress and distress.

Today I read a report that did just that. It takes a big-picture snapshot of how housing has fundamentally changed over the past several decades, which could have a big impact on its future as the industry rebuilds itself, literally and economically.

The report, from John Burns Real Estate Consulting's Chris Porter, is titled simply, "Tremendous Demographic Shift." And the numbers are pretty tremendous.

"The number of non-family households—people living alone or households that do not have any members related to the householder—has increased nearly five times in the last 50 years, from 7.9 million to 39.2 million. At the same time, the number of family households has increased by just 1.7 times, from 45.1 million to 77.5 million," according to Porter.

In addition, married couples have dropped to less than half of all US households from 75 percent in 1960.

So let's think about the current housing stock, much of which is more than 50 years old. We've recently seen a downsizing trend for several reasons, namely the weak economy and builders constructing cheaper homes to meet the demand but also the environmental movement and the high cost of energy.

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