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Living in (Single) America

by Peter Thomas Ricci

Americans love being single, according to new Census Bureau data, and that trend will likely impact housing in noticeable ways.

For the first time since the government began tracking such statistics in 1976, there are more single adults in the U.S. than there are married individuals, according to new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Indeed, it’s been a dramatic upswing – in 1976, just 37.6 percent of adults were single, but since then, the percentage has steadily increased, and as of the latest stats for 2014, 50.2 percent of U.S. adults (or 124.6 million) are single.

Here’s a chart demonstrating the increase:

This trend is quite significant for housing, and in two ways:

First, agents will obviously be dealing with a much different clientele; single consumers bring a set of needs and desires to their housing decisions that are wholly different from that of married couples (for instance, an area’s walkability and entertainment amenities may receive more attention than the area’s school and park districts), and with the single population continuing to grow, agents should anticipate serving more consumers of that ilk.

Second, the growing singles population will also have quite an effect on new construction. As Builder explained in a recent article, more singles will not only mean more flexible floor plans for the dynamic single lifestyle, but also a greater emphasis on affordability (singles, after all, have less purchasing power than couples) and “community” living, a la communal sheds for lawnmowers/snow blowers and even garages for cars.

We’ve written numerous times about how multifamily construction is driving the housing recovery, and the new BLS numbers suggest that we could be on the cusp of a substantial cultural change that will continue to propel multifamily forward.

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