Exclusive Research: House Data and Buyer Demographics

Builders and architects report on cost per square foot, house size, and buyer income and preferences

By Mike Beirne, Senior Editor | January 3, 2018
bar chart and line graphs_house data_exclusive research_buyer demographics
(Photo: Lukas from Pexels)

During 2017, the cost of labor and materials continued to rise, but builders and architects in Professional Builder’s recent House/Buyer survey also cited cost increases for plenty of other items. Code changes and compliance with government regulations have always been mentioned as cost drivers in previous years, but those reasons appeared more often in this year’s poll.

A large California builder that targets first-time buyers wrote that the state’s 2016 energy code enhancements—2-by-6 wall frames, whole-house fans, and insulated attic walls—increased costs. A Texas custom home builder noted that hurricane repairs have strained the availability of labor, and a Wisconsin custom home builder reported that “everything has become special-ordered or back-ordered by four to eight weeks, which is killing construction schedules.” Lumber and cement were most often mentioned as the building materials that have become more expensive and, in one instance, the cost of water as well.

Other drivers, cited through open text comments, include: client expectations, particularly for detailed finishes that require greater skill on the part of the installer; building better quality, more complex houses; and building green houses. More information about cost, house size, and buyer profiles is in the charts that follow.

Average house price range 20chartHouse cost per square foot chart

Average square footage of house chart

Age range of new home clients chart

Clients with children and relatives chart

Smaller or larger house chart

Income and budget charts

Aging in place and flexible space chart



Mike Beirne is the senior editor of Professional Builder and Custom Builder magazines. A two-time Jesse H. Neal Award winner, Mike has nearly 30 years of journalism experience plus numerous news and feature writing awards, including honors from the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Society of Business Press Editors, and the National Association of Real Estate Editors. He also operated a masonry restoration business for more than two decades.