Once accounted for 75% of U.S. households in 1960, the number of married couples is now less than 50%, according to a report by Chris Porter of John Burns Real Estate Consulting. This figure corresponds to the increase of non-family households, which skyrocketed from 7.9 million half a century ago to 39.2 million today.
To the extent that the downsizing trend will affect the future housing market, "[f]amily households are more likely to stretch for size over location. Non-family households are more likely to value location-proximity to work, entertainment, etc.-and then size. They are less willing to commute than a family household," writes Porter.
Olick elaborates, "With fewer large family households and less desire for a big space, smaller, full-service rental apartments are more desirable to a growing segment of the population. Obviously there are and always will be large families in the suburbs who want to live in big houses. There will always be wealthy Americans who desire to live in spaces that far exceed their needs. But the shift in household size cannot simply be considered anecdotal."