America’s Most Popular House Styles: Hard to Pin Down

Ever tried to pin down the most popular house style in the U.S.? Turns out—you can’t.

Last week it almost seemed as if the answer was at hand. Moreno Valley readers could have come across the ad link that promised to reveal “The Most Popular House Styles.” The come-hither promise read, “Browse our photo gallery for the most popular housing styles and types in America.”

The most likely reason for clicking would have been for Moreno Valley homeowners to find out how popular their own home’s style is considered to be. If it’s the Most Popular of all, when it came time to sell, herds of popularity-seeking American buyers could come rushing over for a showing!

If that were the goal, the first mouse click would have dashed the hope, for it showed a photo of an unadorned two-windowed center-chimneyed home that couldn’t have been larger than 400 square feet. This first style—Number 1—was the “Cape Cod Style” home.

Since few could be persuaded that Capes are the runaway #1 Most Popular homes in the U.S., it seemed probable that the author wasn’t going to let us in on the order of popularity. That suspicion was confirmed by #2 of the Most Popular House Styles: “New England Colonial.” Pictured was a 1720 model that looked remarkably well-preserved (but not particularly popular-looking).

If you grew impatient and scanned down the page, you found “Dutch Colonial,” then “German Colonial” (a brooding hand-made brick and stone structure). Despite what the ad had promised, this was more like an Every Conceivable House Style list rather than a true Most Popular one. It was a very long page, ultimately chronicling no fewer than 57 different house styles. This was clearly not going to deliver on its promise—but the question it raised was nonetheless an interesting one. What are the Most Popular house styles in the U.S.? Are they in the South? On a lake? Actually, what is the Most Popular?

You’d think that the answer would be most likely to come from the National Association of Realtors®—but it was not to be. At least the NAR has pared the Most Popular list down to its Top 20, but heading the list is “Tudor.” I can agree that in Moreno Valley (or in any town), Tudors may be greatly admired. But across the whole country, they’re not likely to rank as Most Popular.

Down there at the bottom of the NAR list are three that could be serious contenders: “Midcentury Modern,” “Traditional Ranch” and “Contemporary Style.” They could be Most Popular since all three are architecturally vague—so more homes could fit the categories. An example was “Traditional Ranch,” which can have either brick, wood, or stucco siding. Even vaguer was the Huffington Post’s top pick: “Craftsman style.” Quite a few Moreno Valley homes could qualify, since Craftsman style homes are “often bungalows but may be of any shape so long as they emphasize a relationship with nature and the craft of construction.” If you’re thinking that every house in Moreno Valley is “of any shape” and “has a relationship with the craft of construction,” I’m with you.

Ultimately, there doesn’t seem to be a proven Most Popular house style—which may be just as well, since any style can sell quickly or slowly due to many other factors. The most popular style for any home buyer is, after all, the home that happens to appeal to him or her. Putting that buyer together with that home is how I help—and a fine reason to call me!