Big Homes on Big Lots – Texas Tops Nation on Lot Size

HOUSTON – (By Dale King, Realty News Report) – When folks hear the song lyric, “Give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above,” lots of them think of Texas.

A recently released study says this musical line still holds true, even as we move into the third decade of the 21stcentury.

Five Texas metros dominate the Top 10 among big US cities offering the largest house lots. That’s according to StorageCafé, an online platform looked at the 20 largest cities in the US to determine the urban markets where residents enjoy the most space around their homes.

Over the years, families demanded large homes and home builders responded with bigger houses on bigger lots. In new communities in Texas, lots as wide as 60 to 75 feet are commonplace.

Since the pandemic emerged about 18 months ago, having large lots and big backyards has become a popular home feature as people spend more time at home.

By tracking lot and home size evolution to see how new housing supply reshaped indoor and outdoor residential spaces during the past century, Maria Gatea, a writer for StorageCafé and its sister firm, RentCafé, determined that five major metropolitan areas in Texas ranked near the top of its top 20 list.

StorageCafe research placed Austin at Number 3 on the roster, Dallas at Number 5, San Antonio at Number 7, Houston at Number 9 and Fort Worth at Number 10. Indianapolis, Ind., topped the list, boasting the largest median lot size overall among the country’s largest 20 cities, at 9,191 SF. Philadelphia, on the other hand, has the smallest lot size at 1,089 SF.

What the study also points out is the fact that homes are getting bigger while lot sizes are getting smaller.“The need to reconcile buyers’ preferences for more spacious homes with the need for more housing combined with growing building costs and less available land has created a compromise that’s leaving homeowners stranded for outdoor space,” she says in the document.

In fact, she said, the median home size is now over 2,260 SF, up from 2,170 SF in 2010. Meanwhile, the median lot size of a new home decreased by almost 18%, from 10,500 SF in 2010 to 8,700 SF in 2020, according to data from the US Census. “This reduces the prospects for sizable backyards across the nation,” says the StorageCaféreport.

A major segment of the study focuses on Houston and its prospects for new home development vis-à-vis overall lot area.

“Houston has a median lot size of 7,131 SF and a median house size of 1,824 SF. That’s a house-in-lot ratio of 25.6%. The median lot size in Houston shrank by about 10% from the 1920s to the present; however, homes sizes have been steadily growing since 1920, by more than 70%, resulting in far less space around the house for the city’s residents.”

For those who seek fresh air and aren’t afraid of a bit of lawn work, Houston offers the 9th-biggest lot sizes in America. Other notable findings related to lot and home size changes in the Bayou City include:

  • The median lot size in Houston is over 7,100 SF, around seven times the equivalent figure for Philadelphia.
  • In terms of indoor living space, Houston ranked Number 3, with a median home size of 1,824 SF.

“The white picket fence home with a manicured lawn at the front and a large backyard for family fun has been an essential component of the American dream for ages,” the report notes. “But how much of the traditional aspiration towards expansive outdoor spaces is still achievable in the biggest US cities? And where do homeowners have the best chances to enjoy a nice backyard?”

In Austin’s case, the median lot size from one decade to the other varied less than in other cities, from about 6,700 SF in the 1920s to 7,400 SF in the 2010s, with a peak of over 9,500 SF in the 1960s. However, the median home size increased by almost 84 percent over the past 100 years, resulting in an increase in lot coverage from 19 percent in the 1920s to 32 percent today.

Dallas reports in with a median lot size of almost 8,200 SF. The median home size in Big D stands at around 1,600 SF. Decade-to-decade evolution of lot sizes in Dallas shows slight variation – around 7,500 SF in the 1920s, inching up to 10,000 SF in the 1960s, and going back to roughly 7,500 SF in the last decade. However, the median home size increased by more than 76% over the same period, to more than 2,400 SF feet now, resulting in an increase in lot usage from 18 percent to 32 percent.”

San Antonio’s median lot size decreased by only 6 percent over the past 100 years – however, the median home size increased by almost 90 percent, resulting in far less space around the home for outdoor activities. In the case of both Houston and Fort Worth, lots decreased by about 10 percent from the 1920s up to the present, while the median home increased in size by more than 70 percent.

“The demand for housing in many markets is so much higher than the current supply that developers of new residential properties have to make the most of available land,” said Isaac Hiatt of Yardi Matrix, StorageCafé’s sister division and a research firm focusing on multifamily, student housing, office, industrial and self-storage properties across the United States.

“This has led to an increase in what many would call single family condensed housing.”

Other bullet-point findings of the study include:

  • San Diego increased the median lot size by almost 50% from the 1920s to the present day.
  • Seattle, Charlotte and Denver saw the biggest lot size decreases over the past 100 years.
  • Lot usage increased in all 20 biggest cities in the US, largely due to increasing home sizes.

Aug. 4, 2021 Realty News Report Copyright 2021

Photo by Ralph Bivins, Realty News Report copyright 2021

For more about Texas real estate, check out the book Houston 2020: America’s Boom Town – An Extreme Close Up  by Ralph Bivins. Available on Amazon  

Houston 2020 Ebook version     

File: Big Homes on Big Lots

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