Study: Housing Costs Cut Number of Households by Millions

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amslerPIX/FlickrWhether it's getting a roommate or moving back in with parents, doubling up has become a common way to cut costs.

By Emily Heffter

The housing recovery has come with some tough financial realities for renters. The bottom line: Rent is less affordable than ever, and incomes aren't keeping up. New Zillow research looks at the way that phenomenon has changed the housing landscape across the country, and the numbers are striking: So many Americans have moved in together to save money that there are 5.4 million fewer households than there would have been under normal market conditions.

Doubling up -- whether it's getting a roommate or moving back in with parents -- is an obvious way to cut costs. The research shows that Americans are, increasingly, splitting the rent. In 2012, more than a%VIRTUAL-pullquote- "There is a silver lining behind this data."% third of working-age adults were living with another adult with whom they were not in a marriage or partnership. In 2000, less than a quarter of Americans were doubled up.

The change has bumped up the median household size, from 1.75 adults in 2000 to 1.83 adults in 2012.

The new report surfaces that fact that there's potential for housing demand to outpace population growth, because of the pent-up demand in all those guestrooms and basements. If salaries improve or housing costs fall, some of those doubled-up Americans will likely want a home of their own.

"The rise in doubled-up households is a troubling sign of the times and starkly illustrates one of the prime drivers behind weak home sales these days," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. "But there is a silver lining behind this data. Like a coiled spring, all of these doubled-up households represent tremendous potential energy for the market."

To learn more about the affect doubling up has on the housing market and to find data for your local market, visit Zillow Research.

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