Over the past decade, the national median lot size for a new home fell by almost 2,000 square feet, down from around 10,500 square feet in 2010 to 8,700 square feet in 2020, according to data from the U.S. Census. Over the same period, the median home size rose from 2,170 square feet in 2010 to 2,260 square feet in 2020. According to a new report by STORAGECafé, this reflects a move toward larger homes on smaller land, and smaller backyard sizes in turn.
Using data from its sister organizations, Property Shark and Point2Homes, STORAGECafé has analyzed the 20 largest cities in the U.S. to discover where residents enjoy the largest backyards in urban areas—and how lot and home sizes have evolved by region over the past 100 years.
Indianapolis tops the list with the biggest home lots overall, at a median lot size of 9,191 square feet, followed by Jacksonville, Florida, the only coastal city at the top of the list with a median lot size of 9,104 square feet. Austin, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Dallas also offer median lot sizes of over 8,000 square feet.
The median home size in Indianapolis is 1,465 square feet, meaning that the median home occupies 15.9% of the median lot. Over the past 100 years, lot sizes in Indianapolis grew from a median of 5,900 square feet from 1920 to 1929 to a peak median size of 14,200 square feet from 1960 to 1969, before shrinking back again to 7,900 square feet from 2010 to 2019. STORAGECafé anticipates lots will continue to shrink in size, as median home prices in Indianapolis have risen significantly during the first quarter of 2021, paired with a 50% drop in inventory and rising construction costs.
On the other end of the list, Philadelphia has the smallest median lot size at 1,089 square feet. Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and New York City round out the bottom five, all with median sizes under 2,800 square feet.
With median home prices rising rapidly and a shortage of land available in urban hot spots, STORAGECafé notes a general trend of a rising percentage of a land plot being occupied by the home, where the home size represents the total of the floor sizes, in all of the 20 biggest cities. “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. This has led to an increase in what many would call single-family condensed housing,” says Isaac Hiatt of Yardi Matrix.
Click here to view the full data from each of the 20 cities.