Is the US housing stock too old?

A recent article discusses an aging American housing stock:

According to a recent survey from research firm RealtyTrac, 71 percent of U.S. single-family homes were built before 1990. In some states, particularly in the Northeast, pre-1990 houses make up 80 percent of recent sales.

Experts say the new-home drought is mainly due to a hangover from the real estate bust. Homebuilding, which practically came to a halt five years ago, has been slow to restart as big developers have remained skittish. New-home construction this year is still 40 percent below normal long-term levels, says Jed Kolko, chief economist at real estate website

Furthermore, builders have focused on multifamily homes, and individual buyers have not had access to all the new single-family houses coming to market.

“Wall Street-backed money has scooped up newer homes to use as rental properties,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. “That’s pushed the already-low new-home inventory down to record levels.”

The article seems to suggest the housing stock is too old but then doesn’t provide much evidence that this is the case. Based on the figures presented here, it sounds like 29% of American homes have been built since 1990. Is this too high or too low? Here are a few ways we could approach this argument:

1. There is a certain percentage of the housing stock that should be from the last two decades in a healthy economy or housing market and the US has not met this.

2. Perhaps demand for newer homes has increased. It could be that more homebuyers want homes that require little work or homes with certain features. Thus, this is less about having a set amount of newer homes and rather about responding to what customers want. Theoretically, if more people wanted older homes, then fewer new homes would need to be built.

3. Citing these figures is more of an introduction for then talking about how homebuyers should approach purchasing an older home (As the rest of the article does).

4. The percent of new housing stock will differ quite a bit by metropolitan area and region. While the Sunbelt has been growing faster, Midwestern and Northeastern regions have been growing more slowly.

All together, the quick claim here that the American housing stock is too old needs some more explaining.