The country’s first home developer


Dennis Norman

I saw an interesting tidbit that came from the US Census Bureau that shows just how much things have changed in the real estate world in the past 60+ years in the U.S.  The piece I saw was from the census bureau’s “Profile America” series and discussed one of the first communities built in our country by a real estate developer back in 1947.  The place was the town of Levittown, on New York’s Long Island and aptly named for the developers, William and Alfred Levitt.

Eventually the town contained more than 17,000 Cape Code and ranch style homes that soldiers returning from World War II snapped up…..apparently there was a housing shortage at the time (oh what I wouldn’t give for another housing shortage :).  

How times have changed:

The houses in Levittown had 800 square feet and sold for $7,500.  Today, according to the Census Bureau, the average new home in America has just over 2,500 square feet and sells for more than $232,000.  So, in just over 60 years, the average home size has tripled and the cost has increased ten-fold from just under $10/foot to just under $100/foot.

Where things are headed:

So during a period when the average household size, according to Census data, when from 3.67 people in 1940 down to an estimated 2.53 people in 2010, we saw houses triple in size during the period.  The size of families as well as the number of people per household are projected to continue to decline over the next 10 or 15 years and this, coupled with the recent financial realities that have hit us about the housing market and economy will probably lead to a continuation of the trend we have seen in the past year or so of smaller sized new homes.


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