Ranch and two-story homes have features that appeal to different buyers, but also some drawbacks that you should consider. You may prefer one style when you have a growing family and another style when you become a senior citizen. The construction statistics may surprise you.

For example, in 1980, around 60 percent of US housing starts, but in the new millennium, that number has decreased to around 49 percent. Why? As the population increases and there is no corresponding increase (in fact, a shortage) of buildable land, many building lots are getting smaller. It’s easier to build two-story homes, with their more compact foundations and smaller roof areas, on reduced size lots than building sprawling ranch homes.

This statistic seems to contradict the preferences of the aging US population, for which over 80 percent of this group (65 or older) prefers living on one level only.  Climbing steep stairs is a “no-no” for senior citizens—more opportunities to suffer injury.

Tastes Are Changing

According to the National Association of Home Builders, buyers are less interested now in two-story homes than they were in the past 30 years. Formerly, the overwhelming majority of Americans preferred multi-level homes. However, the American majority (52 percent) now prefers one-story living.

In addition to senior citizens, increasing numbers of younger people prefer one floor living, too. In fact, the number of under-35 adults preferring single-story homes is up to more than 50 percent as compared to the 36 percent choosing two-story homes and the 14 percent who favor split-level houses.

Designs Are Changing, Too

The apparent conflict between homeowner preferences and the scarcity of building land, influencing contractors to favor two-story homes, are influencing some design changes that incorporate some single-story advantages into two-story houses.  Two significant changes dominate the landscape of new two-story homes.

1.       First floor master bedroom suites becoming more popular.

Instead of locating all sleeping areas on the second floor, master bedrooms are being relocated to the first floor. Now aging homeowners don’t need to relocate to the first floor as their legs create stair-negotiating challenges or actual injuries.

2.       Second floor laundry rooms keep dirty clothes nearby, eliminating the need to negotiate stairways with heavy clothes baskets.

Laundry rooms on the second floor are rapidly growing in popularity to mimic single story homes with convenient laundries close by living areas. This plan alleviates the risk of family members carrying clothes baskets down to (or up from) laundry rooms on the first floor or, possibly, basements in older homes.

Organize Your Priorities

Homebuyers should rank their priorities when finding the next home. This means their ideal option typically is a mix of objective and subjective factors.

For example, younger homeowners who cannot yet afford their dream home, often buy and sell homes quickly, building up profit and equity rather fast. These homeowners stress the objective, rather than subjective factors.

More seasoned homeowners tend to make the subjective a higher priority. They rank the comfort and “livability” of a home higher than profit and dollar signs of value gains. Potential resale value remains an important factor (more dependent on location than home style), but the top factor becomes the quality of a home and its “livability” level.


However, the deciding factor should be how a home “feels” to you, even if your trying to build a nest egg. After all, you and your family are the ones that will live in it.