If you’re in the market for a home, you’re probably thinking a lot about what architectural style suits you. Do you gush over the turrets and detail work of Victorians? Or do you prefer the front porches and dormers of Craftsman homes? If you find yourself dreaming about ranch styles, you’re not alone. According to a study by Trulia, the ranch style is the most popular pick in Wisconsin (along with 34 other states!).  

Why are there so many ranch homes for sale? A 2-minute history. 

Ranch homes dominate the landscape of suburban America. We have California architect Clifford May to thank for that. He designed the first ranch home in 1931 intending to create a home that was all about informal indoor/ outdoor living. By the 1950s ranches accounted for 9 out of every 10 homes built. They are fast and affordable builds, which was highly appealing to developers. Architects like local Frank Lloyd Wright incorporated mid-century modern and prairie-style designs into the vertical ranch homes.

Ranch homes dipped out of fashion in the 70s and 80s, but by the 90s they were top dog again. Their unpretentious style and easy accessibility give them a timeless appeal.

Why do so many people like ranch-style homes?

Enduring Design

Ranch homes aren’t over-engineered. Generally, there is plenty of natural light and open spaces. But otherwise, they are chameleons. It’s easy to incorporate your sense of style into your home. 

No stairs

Stairs can be a big lifestyle choice. Households with two-level homes can’t always plan on living there forever. As we grow older, being able to access all parts of the home without going upstairs is a big consideration. Fall risks are dangerous for the elderly.

If a big life event happens (like breaking your leg, for example) you won’t lose access to any parts of your home. Ranches are accessible for any type of disability and ready for any surprises life throws your way. They are truly forever homes. 

Master on Main 

Any hobbyist home searchers know that “master on main” is a highly desirable tag. There are so few houses for sale with the primary bedroom suite on the main level these types of homes sell faster and for much more money.  They appeal to all age demographics.

Safety perks

In the event of fire, everyone in the household will be able to safely escape through ground-floor windows.   

Larger living spaces

Living spaces and common shared spaces in ranch homes tend to be larger. They’re made for hosting game nights or keeping an eye on the kids while you prepare dinner. 

Easy access to the yard: Indoor/ outdoor living

Ranches are designed to easily meld with the outdoors. U-shaped floorplans encourage a natural flow of traffic between indoor and outdoor living spaces. 

They just feel homey

Ranch houses have a unique mix of modern and traditional charm. They can be beautifully outfitted following cottage core or mid-century design trends.

The easy barrier to entry

Despite their popularity, ranch homes remain some of the most affordable on the market.

Larger Lot Sizes

Many newer developments focus on packing in as many homes as possible in one place. It only makes sense- the developer makes more money that way! And so newer builds gain most of their square footage vertically- building the house up instead of out. But ranch-style homes were built to extend horizontally. They sprawl outwards, giving you much more space around your home, and larger yard space. 

Styles of ranch homes for sale: 

California ranch

California ranches are built in L or U-shapes. They’re low to the ground and designed to blend seamlessly with nature. They always have a lovely patio and sprawling front lawn.   

Raised ranch

You can recognize a raised ranch through its shallow rooflines, overhanging eaves, and open floor plan. They may include design details like vaulted ceilings. Sliding doors open onto a deck that overlooks the lawn space.   


Also known as a split-foyer or bi-level homes, these ranches are built with the foundation sunk 4-6 feet into the ground. When you’re in the entryway, you’ll find a small mudroom and two sets of stairs; one that leads you up to the main level and another that goes to the basement.


Storybook ranches are set parallel to the street. There is often an attached garage and open floorplan that includes fireplaces, eat-in kitchens, and sliding glass doors. You may find whimsical ornamentation throughout the home. It’s common to find accents like diamond-paned windows, scalloped edges, shutters, or window boxes.   

Ranch homes for sale in Madison 

Click here to search for ranch homes available in Madison right now. If you find something you like, let us know! We’ll set up a tour for you.