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How Old Are Homes in the USA?

Most readers of OldHouseWeb.com own what are considered old homes (built in 1945 or earlier). They were polled about the age of the homes they live in—and nearly half of responders said they owned homes built between 1900 and 1945. About a third own homes built between 1800 and 1899. A small five percent owned homes built before 1800. Let’s take a look at how old houses are across the country.

Average Age of US Homes

Comparing answers to a 1995 housing survey conducted by the U.S. Census, only 27.5 percent of homeowners resided within a house that was built in 1949 or earlier, and 8.9 percent of those polled lived in one built in 1919 or earlier. In 2009, a housing survey conducted by the U.S. Census found the age of most houses in the USA to be 36 years, with 22.9 percent built during the 1950s and 1960s. This makes sense when you study the history of the country, as those decades are when the economically strongest middle class was created.

Depending on the area of the country, the median age varies. Homes in the Northeast are older, with an average age of 51 years. Homes built in the early- to mid-1800s are common in the New England states, again, not surprising to those who know our country’s history. Homes in the South tend to be younger, at an average of 31 years.

Of the homes standing today, 22.9 percent were built during the 1950s and 1960s. Regionally, 12 percent of the homes in the Midwest and 14 percent of homes in the Northeast were built in the 1950s. Eleven percent of the homes in the South and in the West were built in the 1960s. The housing boom in the Northeast began well before the 1950s, however; 14 percent of homes in the area were built before 1919.

Vintage Homes

Not surprisingly, Buffalo, New York shows 101,800 of homes built in 1919 or earlier. New York City, possesses an impressive 792,800, holding the majority of aged homes for the state. Rochester also offered a significant showing, with 91,800 of the homes there built before 1919.

Obviously, many vintage homes are located in what became massive metropolitan areas of the states. Chicago has about 310,000 and Boston 290,000. The northern area of New Jersey sports 270,000. The whole of Philadelphia also sits at an average of 270,000 homes. Minneapolis holds a count of about 113,000.

The largest concentration of older homes are located in areas that were settled earlier than most of states in the nation. Interestingly, some older areas of the country don’t follow this pattern and have a lower incidence of historic homes. Atlanta, Georgia, offers only 15,500 homes that were built before 1919. Kansas City, Missouri offers 38,000, while Norfolk, Virginia has only 16,600 homes built before that time.

Tampa, Florida doesn’t possess many, where there are only 2,100 homes were built before 1919. The median age of all homes in Tampa metro area is 31 years. Moving over to the Pacific coast, San Diego, California homes are roughly 36 years in age, with only 8,100 built before 1919.

There are only about 900 homes in Phoenix, Arizona that were built before 1919, and the median age of homes in the area is 28 years. So, it is the most significant area for having the fewest old homes for a major US city.

Homes by Decade

If you want to examine the whole of the USA in a quick snapshot, census data of homes built 1900 to 2014 displays which decades are most represented by the current housing stock. Believe it or not the largest share of homes in the Northeastern states was built in the 80s. However, in California, the prevailing decade for houses still being lived in is the 1950s.

The majority of the oldest homes built in the USA from 1920 – 1929 is Washington, DC.

The states holding up the 50s, built in 1950 – 1959 are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.

For the decade of disco homes built 1970 – 1979 we see Hawaii, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

The most homes built during the New Wave, New Age decade 1980 – 1989, are in the states of Alaska, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Virginia.

Interestingly, the states with the most homes built during the 90s, between 1990 – 1999, only number two states: Delaware and Indiana.

The largest growth is in the current era. Homes built between 2000 – 2010 have occurred in 40% of the whole country: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

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