Not your imagination: New 3-bedroom homes built less in Western U.S.

After 2012, the Western U.S. had a smaller share of three-bedroom homes built than the national average.
After 2012, the Western U.S. had a smaller share of three-bedroom homes built than the national average.
After 2012, the Western U.S. had a smaller share of three-bedroom homes built than the national average.

Denver metro homebuyers who want three bedrooms have a difficult task ahead. For starters, three-bedroom homes sell twice as often as two-bedroom homes in Denver.

But there aren’t as many new homes to meet demand, either. In the latest Census survey of new single-family housing completed, the West has a smaller share of new three-bedrooms than the U.S. as a whole.

Don’t blame micro-studios and the drive for efficient living for a lack of new three-bedroom homes, though — in our part of the country, there’s a higher share of new four-bedroom homes being built than the broader United States. Take 2016, for example:

The share of new homes built with two bedrooms or fewer is actually the lowest share.
The share of new homes built with two bedrooms or fewer is actually the lowest share.

Furthermore, the share of four-bedroom homes in both the United States and the West has been rising over the past 27 years.

What’s so special about three-bedroom homes then? Why can’t the people who want three-bedroom homes just buy a house with another bedroom? Money, naturally.

Compared to four-bedroom homes, three-bedroom homes are cheaper. So far this year, three-bedroom homes sold for about $11,000 less than four-bedroom homes, according to a Denverite analysis using city sale data and assessor figures for room counts.

Given that three-bedroom homes are conventionally seen as desirable to families, relative affordability is important. But the demographics may be shifting to favor three-bedroom home construction again.

“Demographics for the last six years in Denver have been terrific for apartments,” said Aaron Foy, president of development for BLVD Builders. “It’s a lot of people in their 20s moving to town and you know, the vast majority of them are going to live in apartments at that age. But as they get into their 30s, it’s traditionally when people start looking for a home to own.”

BLVD Builders recently constructed Iron Works Village, an Englewood development with 136 for-sale residences, including three-bedroom homes, and Riverdale, another project with three-bedroom homes. But Foy says they’re not the only ones working in this market.

“At least among homebuilders, you are seeing an increased awareness that there’s a market at the three-bedroom level,” he said. “I know we’re starting to see it in the outer suburbs, but it’s starting to cascade inward and we’re going to see it throughout the metro area.”

Don’t expect that too soon though — for Foy, location is still a big determinant for where BLVD Builders goes.

“Our company is trying to take advantage of this middle space, which again are these interior suburbs like Englewood… We’re trying to find those sorts of places and really be in a spot where [there’s] a significant discount compared to downtown,” said Foy.