Are you living in the typical American home?
How many bedrooms are in your home--two, three? Does your home still use window units or do you have central air? If your home has one bathroom, you probably wish you had two, but is that standard? What about your mortgage rate--how does it stack up against the national average? Are you paying too much in interest each month?
In a quest to find out which characteristics make up the average American home (and its financing), HSH.com looked at the most recent HUD-U.S. Census Bureau American Housing Survey to understand the most common traits in American houses.
What is the "average house" and how does your home compare?
Despite all the negative consequences that followed the housing bust just a few years ago, homeownership remains a quintessential slice of the American Dream. From the steps of the Capitol building to the commercials you see on TV, America has always championed the ideals that come with owning your own home. Homeownership rates increased to 66 percent in the year 2000, up from 46 percent since 1900, according to Census data. Even with all the ups and downs in the housing market over the years, the majority of Americans continue to view housing as a solid investment for their future.
"Despite current challenges, owning a home still provides great value over the long haul and remains an important part of wealth building for the future," said HSH.com Vice President Keith Gumbinger.
Just as homeownership rates have risen enormously since 1900, home prices have increased over time. The national average price in 1940 was $2,938; in 2000 it was $119,600, and in 2009 it was $268,200.
Along with home prices, mortgage rates are also an indicator of affordability. As the market fluctuates year to year, so do mortgage rates. Some of the earliest HSH.com surveys, from 1981, found 30-year fixed mortgage rates as high as 18.3 percent! In 2009, the average rate was 5.20 percent; in 2010, that same interest rate fell to a yearly average of 4.81 percent.
"High interest rates can hurt affordability for a while, and the reduction in demand puts pressure on home prices," said Gumbinger. "To restore affordability, prices or interest rates must fall or incomes must rise to close the gap. Often, it's all three."
So as you review the graphic at the top of the page, you're probably asking yourself, "How do my home and my mortgage measure up to the national average? Am I keeping up with the Joneses?"
More help from HSH.com
Home price recovery index: Which metros have improved the most, least?Have home prices in your area fully recovered from the declines suffered during the Great Recession, or are they still struggling to make it back to the peak it reached before the crisis?
How long do I have to own or live in my home to qualify for the capital gains tax exclusion when I sell?You can exclude capital gains on the sale of your primary residence if you meet the IRS's ownership and use requirements.
10 metros where a home costs about $1,000/monthHSH.com identifies 10 metro areas where you can afford the principal, interest, taxes and insurance payments on a median-priced home for only around $1,000 per month.
Metropolitan area definitionsMetro area definitions for the 50 metropolitan areas in "The salary you must earn to buy a home in 50 metros"
The salary you must earn to buy a home in the 50 largest metrosHere’s how much salary you would need to earn in order to afford the median-priced home in your metro area.