The pandemic kicked off an unexpected housing boom across the US, leaving buyers scrambling in an ultra-competitive market and sellers enjoying sudden spikes in their equity. Historically low interest rates combined with low inventory are helping fuel the house panic buying fire. According to Zillow’s recent Market Pulse Report, which looks at housing factors including the number of homes coming up for sale in any given month, The US is facing one of the tightest available housing markets in decades.
Using the most recent American Housing Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which is released every other year, we can see the most popular types of homes across the 10 biggest metropolitan areas in the country. The survey looks at multiple types of construction, including single-family homes, townhouses, and structures containing 2-4 units, 5-9 units, 10-19 units, 20-49 units, 50 or more units, and manufactured/mobile homes. The numbers reveal some interesting trends of which areas favor single-family detached homes, and which cities are dominated by multi-unit dwellings.
New York City
The Big Apple had 7.34 million occupied housing units in 2019, of which just over 3 million were detached, single-family homes, by far the most popular home type in the city. Dense housing structures containing 50 or more units, typically apartment buildings common in major urban centers, were the second most-popular, with an estimated 1.45 million. It’s a steep drop-off after the two most popular housing types, with structures containing 2-4 units coming in third place with 907,000.
America’s second-largest metropolitan area, Los Angeles has just 60 percent of the occupied housing units compared to New York City, with 4.4 million total. However, unlike its cross-country rival megacity, single-family detached homes were far and away the most popular in the City of Angels, with over 2.25 million occupied units. The second-most popular housing style in LA is structures containing 2-4 units, at 431,000 total. Structures containing 20-49 housing units round out the top 3 with just 391,000. Notably, the LA metro area is third among the 10 largest cities in the US when it comes to manufactured or mobile homes, with just under 72,000 units city-wide.
Chicago is another dense metro area with sprawling suburbs, which is reflected by the dominance of single-family detached housing units, coming in at 1.98 million. Out of an estimated 3.55 million total occupied households in the Windy City, 422,000 were in structures of two to four units, the second most-popular housing type. Rounding out the top three structures containing 50 or more units, with 327,000 in the Chicago metro area.
One of two Texas cities in the top 10 most populated, Dallas has a high proportion of single-family detached homes, with 1.76 million units compared to a total occupied housing stock of 2.7 million, or just under 63% of all homes in the Dallas metro area. Of the remaining housing types, no single type exceeds 200,000 total units, with mid-size apartment buildings or condos among the most popular after single-family homes. The second-most popular housing type in the Dallas metro area was structures containing 5-9 units, at 199,000. Following close behind is structures containing 10-19 units, with 181,000 total occupied dwellings across the city.
Another entry from the Lone Star State, Houston, much like Dallas, overwhelmingly favors single-family detached housing, with 65% of the metro area’s housing stock consisting of single-family units. Out of Houston’s approximately 2.3 million housing units, 1.57 million are single-family, detached homes. The second most common type of dwelling for Houston residents is densely populated structures containing 50 or more units, of which 162,000 can be found in the city. Third-most popular is mid-size dwellings with 10-19 units, with 154,000. Interestingly, of the top 10 metro areas in the US, Dallas and Houston are the only two with over 100,000 occupied manufactured/mobile homes, with 107,000 and 101,000, respectively.
The City of Brotherly Love deviates somewhat from some of the other metro areas on this list with its high number of row houses, single-family attached units. Of the top 10 metro areas in the US, Philadelphia has by far the highest proportion of attached single-family housing, making up nearly 30% of its total number of occupied units. While detached single-family homes made up just under 50% of the 2.3 occupied housing units in Philly, or 1.15 million, detached housing followed close behind with 667,000 units, and was the second-most popular housing type in the city. Structures containing 2-4 housing units came in third, with 148,000.
Our nation’s capital has the second-highest proportion of single-family attached dwellings out of the top 10 metro areas in the US, with just over 21% of all housing in the city, or 463,000 units. However, single-family homes took the top spot yet again, with 1.02 million total units, or 45%. Coming in as the third-most popular housing type was densely populated buildings with 50 or more units, with 288,000.
Florida’s “Magic City” follows the rest of the list more closely when it comes to trends, with 993,000 of its 2.05 million occupied housing units consisting of single-family detached houses, or just under 50%. Next most popular was dense structures of 50 units or more, with 257,000 total occupied units. Miami also favors single-family attached housing more than most cities on the list, with 199,000 total dwellings of that type, or around 10% of the total housing stock.
The “City of Atlantis” has by far the largest proportion of single-family detached homes compared to the total number of housing units, with 1.5 million out of 2.1 million, a whopping 71% of the city’s total housing stock. A distant second is medium-density dwellings containing 10-19 units, of which there were just 121,000. Bringing up the rear close behind is slightly smaller residential structures with 5-9 units, of which Atlanta has 118,000.
Boston is the 10th largest US metro area, with just 1.88 million occupied households city-wide. Of those, 54%, or 988,000, are single-family detached homes. Beantown also favored small multi-unit dwellings more than most of the other top 10 US metro area cities, with 366,000, or around 20% of the total housing stock. The third-most popular housing type in Boston was larger structures of 50 or more units, with 143,000.