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Home sizes reach an all-time high

July 24, 2006|by JIM WOODARD/Copley News Service

New homes being designed and built in today's market are significantly larger and offer more amenities than homes built two or three decades ago, according to a report on new home characteristics released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The information provides a snapshot of changing aspects of home design in recent decades, including the continued expansion of new home sizes through last year.

The average floor area in a newly built home last year reached an all-time high of 2,434 square feet. That's up from an average 2,349 square feet in 2004 and just 1,645 feet in 1975. The Northeast had the largest average new home size, with the Midwest reporting the smallest new homes.

Title loss ratios up: The title insurance industry has seen a three-year rise in loss ratios, now at the highest point in 10 years, according to data published by Demotech Inc., a financial analysis firm, in its "Performance of Title Insurance Companies" report.

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Despite increasing overall income, net operating gains are down by more than 25 percent, amounting to a $250 million drop from 2003 levels. At the same time, the yield on invested assets is at a 10-year low.

Two out of three title companies increased their surplus during the past year, Demotech noted. Some of the largest increases are from industry leaders. Stewart Title Insurance Co., Fidelity National, Chicago Title and First American Title all report double-digit increases in their surplus, averaging more than 25 percent more surplus than at this time last year.

Send inquiries to Jim Woodard, Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190. Questions may be used in future columns; personal responses should not be expected.

Copley News Service

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