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Share of Smaller Lots Rose to Record High During the Pandemic

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Land Planning

Share of Smaller Lots Rose to Record High During the Pandemic

A large share of new for-sale homes were built on smaller lots throughout the pandemic, even as buyer preferences shifted in favor of spacious living 

September 8, 2022
Crowded residential neighborhood with homes on small lots seen from above
Image: Stock.adobe.com

While homebuyers reported a desire for more spacious properties throughout the pandemic, a rising share of new for-sale homes were built on smaller lots in 2021, Eye on Housing reports. More than two-thirds (67) of new single-family detached homes sold in 2021 were built on lots smaller than one-fifth of an acre, possibly due to unprecedented lot shortages in the midst of a nationwide homebuying boom.

The most dramatic shift in lot size distribution during the last decade took place at the lowest end, with lots under 0.16 acres increasing their share from 28% in 2011 to 39% in 2021.

The latest SOC data show that 67% of all new single-family detached homes sold in 2021 were occupying less than 1/5 of an acre. Going back to 1999, when the Census started tracking these data, the share was 46%. A persistent shift towards smaller lots, however, is a more recent phenomenon. The share of lots under one fifth of an acre was fluctuating around 48%, never crossing the 50% mark, until 2011. In contrast, the share rose rapidly during the last decade, from 50% in 2011 to 61% right before the pandemic and gained additional 6 percentage points during the two pandemic years.

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