By Xi Chen | Cronkite News
It’s no surprise that Valley homes are more likely to have a swimming pool, and maybe not so surprising that they have more garages than homes nationally. But fewer mice?
Yes, said the Census Bureau, in a survey released Thursday.
The 2011 American Housing Survey said that just 2.3 percent of the homes in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale region reported signs of rodents in the previous 12 months, compared to a national average of 12.7 percent of homes with vermin.
That was just one finding of the survey which looked at physical and financial characteristics of the nation’s housing stock, listing everything from the ages and prices of homes to presence of rodents and mold.
Valley homes were more expensive than the rest of the nation, with a purchase price of $139,000 in the Phoenix area in 2011 compared to $110,000 nationally. Not surprisingly, they were also newer, with a median age of 24 years in the metro area compared to 37 years nationally.
“They are typically newer homes, because it’s a newer city,” said Bobby Lieb, a real estate broker at HomeSmart, who described himself as a longtime Arizona resident.
Those newer homes are also “generally built with frame, stick, and stud bolt so they typically don’t last long,” said Lieb. That sometimes makes it cheaper to tear down the older house and build a new house, perpetuating the cycle.
The region’s younger housing stock could be part of the reason why Valley homes reported fewer mice and less mold in the survey, said Shawn Bucholtz, director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s office of Housing and Demographic Analysis.
“That may reflect some climatic differences, but it also reflects that the housing stock is newer in the Phoenix area,” Bucholtz said.
He said the age of the area’s homes also explains why 93 percent of homes in the valley have a garage or carport, compared to just 79 percent nationally.
“We find with homes that are built more recently, they tend to have a garage because it’s an amenity that you add to the house,” Bucholtz said.
The area’s apparent affinity for garages might also reflect how people in the area commute, said Lieb, who noted that people in the Valley tend to drive more because its freeways are typically faster than those in bigger cities.
“If you are in a big city like Chicago or New York, people don’t mind making hours commute to where they work, where they live,” Lieb said. “In Phoenix, if you are more than 15 minutes away, you are too far.”
There’s no need to explain the relative prevalence of swimming pools in the desert city, where 42.8 percent of homes had a pool, well over the national averaage of 15.7 percent. But just because they’re popular, doesn’t mean they’re popular with everyone, Lieb said.
“You’ll find some people that have little kids are paranoid about pools because of safety issues,” said Lieb. “Some may say, ‘I don’t want a pool.’”
Other findings in the survey showed that there were more homes with two or or more bathrooms, slightly more with four or more bedrooms and more with a home office than there were nationally. But Lieb said there really is not one particular home style for the area.
For instance, about half of the owner-occupied housing units in the Valley had a separate dining room, slightly less than the national average and something Lieb attributes to generational differences.
“Old-school people want to have a separate dining room,” he said. “A lot of the younger families now realize that they don’t use dining rooms except maybe once a year, so they kind of gather more in the kitchen.”
But those differences are what makes the area attractive, Lieb said.
“What’s really cool about Phoenix is that there are so many styles,” he said, adding that people have different ideas about “what exactly is home to them.”
A Census Bureau survey of the nation’s housing stock in 2011 showed several differences for homes in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area, some surprising, some not. A sample comparison of homes with:
• A garage or carport:
Phoenix: 93 percent
U.S.: 79 percent
• A swimming pool:
Phoenix: 37.4 percent
U.S.: 12.7 percent
• A usable fireplace:
Phoenix: 35 percent
U.S.: 46 percent
• Two or more complete bathrooms:
Phoenix: 87 percent
U.S.: 65 percent
• Three or more vehicles:
Phoenix: 22 percent
U.S.: 27 percent
• Four or more bedrooms:
Phoenix: 31 percent
U.S.: 29 percent