Wayne County Home to Region’s Oldest Homes

The majority of Southeastern Michigan’s oldest homes are located in Wayne County, with six of the communities in the county having more of than 50 percent of the housing stock built prior to 1950. These communities are: Detroit, Highland Park, Hamtramck, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Park and Wyandotte. Of those communities, and regionally, Grosse Point Park had the highest percentage of homes built before 1950 at 77 percent, followed by Hamtramck at 70.4 percent. In Detroit, about 58 percent of the city’s housing stock was built before 1950. Majority of the homes in Detroit built before 1950 are located in Southwest Detroit, with pockets near the Highland Park and Hamtramck borders, or the central area of the city. Conversely, the area long Belle Isle/the West Village and the most northwest corner of Detroit have the lowest percentage of homes built prior to 1950.

Regionally, about 22 percent of Southeastern Michigan’s housing stock was built prior to 1950. Looking a decade ahead, Census data shows that about 41 percent of the region’s housing stock was built before 1960. In examining this map below, we see that the communities with the highest percentage of homes built before 1960 mainly grew around the city of Detroit into the southern borders of Macomb and Oakland counties, and just east of Detroit. Southern Macomb County experienced some of the largest growth between 1950 and 1959, according to the Census Data. During that time frame Eastpointe grew its housing stock by 48 percent, bringing the total percentage of homes built prior to 1960 to about 78 percent. The City of St. Clair Shores grew its housing stock by 51 percent between 1950 and 1959; the total percentage of this city’s housing stock built prior to 1960 is 66 percent. In Oakland County, the City of Oak Park grew its housing stock by 51.2 percent between 1950 and 1959, growing the percentage of its housing stock built prior to 1960 to 67 percent.

While the inner-ring Detroit suburbs began to grow during this time, the peak percentage of homes being built after 1950 was for cities like Detroit, Hamtramck and Grosse Pointe Farms. For the city of Hamtramck, majority of its housing stock was built before 1939; the same is true for the city of Grosse Pointe Farms.

In Detroit, 22.9 percent of its housing stock was built between 1950 and 1959, making about 80 percent of its housing stock being built before 1960. The decade in which plurality of Detroit’s housing stock was built was between 1940 and 1949; about 24 percent of the housing stock was built during the 1940s.

As noted, the percentage of homes built outside the city of Detroit truly began to ramp up after 1950; the Detroit map below shows a similar trend was also occurring in the city. In the 1950 Detroit map above the Census data shows that majority of the housing built in Detroit prior to 1950 was located in the southwest portion area of the city and the more central area. The 1960 map shows that the percentage of housing built in Detroit between 1950 and 1959 largely grew in the northern and northwestern parts of the City.

This post highlights that Detroit and its inner-ring suburbs have a large stock of aging homes that will require investments and stronger laws to remain safe and habitable. One recent example of this is how the Detroit City Council approved updating its property maintenance code. This code amendment now requires landlords to remove lead hazards from homes that they rent. Such actions are particularly important because, because homes built prior 1978 are particularly susceptible to hazards related to lead-based paint given that a ban didn’t exist until then.

Region’s oldest homes primarily concentrated in Detroit

Vacancy data shows that the region’s oldest homes face higher rates of abandonment. And Detroit has the biggest challenge in this regard. However, data in this post shows that many suburban and rural communities also have an aging housing infrastructure. These homes will require increasing amounts of investment to remain safe and habitable. The maps below show that a number of communities had an average housing stock of greater than 50 years old. For instance, the city of Detroit’s average year that a house was built was 1939. In the maps below we see that majority of the region’s housing stock was built between 1972 and 1991, but that Wayne County and the Woodward Corridor has older housing on average than other areas.

SEMCOG Housing Age



housingDETROITmediantr (1)

Throughout the seven-county region, with the exception of the city of Detroit, we see that the median age of the housing stock is between 24 and 43 years (meaning they were built between 1972 and 1991). This fact corresponds with the beginning of population loss in Detroit (1960s), when residents began to move in large numbers to the suburbs. Other regional communities, such as Royal Oak, Pontiac and Livonia, neared their population peaks in the 1970s (view our previous post on the growth and decline of the region’s population here).

In addition, the maps shows us that Detroit’s median housing age is between 64 and 76 (meaning they were built between 1939 and 1951). It was during 1950 when Detroit’s population peaked at 1.8 million, so it is logical to think that a large portion of its housing stock was built leading up to that population peak.

Other areas where the median age of housing ranges between 64 and 76 years of age include Port Huron, Pontiac, Hamtramck and Highland Park. Hamtramck and Highland Park experienced population growth through the 1930s, largely as a result of the Dodge Main Plant and Highland Park Plant automotive facilities being built in those respective cities. Pontiac was also home to an automotive plant and experienced population growth during the same time as Detroit. Pontiac is also the county seat for Oakland County.

(For more information regarding the population growth of the municipalities mentioned above and the reasoning behind such growth click here).

HousingyearTRICOUNTY1939 (2)


The city of Detroit had the largest total number of of homes built before 1939, with nearly 120,000 still standing, representing 32.8 percent of the city’s housing current housing stock. However, the majority of the region had 30 percent or less of its housing stock built prior to 1939 at the city level. Older communities such as Hamtramck, Highland Park, Romeo, Ferndale, Pontiac and Plymouth had significant older housing stocks when compared to other suburbs.

Another area where more than 50 percent of the housing stock was built prior to 1939 was Mount Clemens, one of the region’s oldest cities (it was established in 1818 and became a city in 1879). Mount Clemens is the county seat for Macomb County and was popular vacation spot for many throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s because of its mineral baths.


Metro-Detroit Housing afte 2000

Detroit Housing after 2000

Throughout the seven-county region, we see only a small percentage Census tracts with more than 10% of homes built after 2000. The Canton area in western Wayne County had the highest percentage of newer homes as of 2013, with more than 70 percent of the area having housing stock built after 2000. In Detroit, there are census tracts near Belle Isle, Corktown and on the West Side that are more than 20 percent homes built after 2000.

Other areas in the region where more than 50 percent of the housing stock was built after 2000 are Macomb Township (which has been named one of Macomb County’s fastest growing community), Shelby Township, Holly, Howell, Monroe and communities surrounding Ann Arbor.

Overall, while there are some newly developed areas in the region, the majority of Southeastern Michigan’s housing stock was standing long before 2000. In addition, the newly developed areas tend to be outside suburbs.