Two Decades of Real Estate Data

Total spending on real estate construction has been rising since 2011. By 2016 it had reached its previous 2006 peak. However, total spending on *residential* real estate construction didn’t reach its previous 2006 peak until November of 2020. The graph below also includes the proportion of residential construction spending (Green). It has been rising since 2009. In and of itself, nothing is good or bad about this figure. We might be spending less on non-residential construction because we are getting better at using less land per unit of good or service produced. Or, it could be that our real investment in future production is falling relative to our current residential consumption.  Regardless, the share of residential construction hasn’t been at this level since 2003.

Importantly, the difference in spending has not been driven by different construction costs. Both residential and non-residential construction costs have moved in tandem since 2010. Therefore, the rise in residential construction spending is not merely nominal – a greater proportion of resources are being consumed by residential construction. Indeed, real residential construction is up about 25% from 2019. The figure below illustrates real residential and nonresidential construction.

That figure requires a double-take.

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