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McMansions now more bite-sized?

February 10, 2012

From Atlantic Cities:

The real estate research firm Trulia found in 2010, for example, that the median “ideal home size” for Americans had declined to around 2100 square feet. More than one-third of survey respondents reported that their ideal preference was lower than 2000 square feet.

In fact, average home size could be even smaller when condos are included:

Bear in mind that the census data include single-family, detached homes, semi-detached, and townhomes but do not include condominiums and apartments.  If homes in multifamily configurations were counted, the average and median sizes would be considerably smaller and the trends perhaps more pronounced.

But still bigger than almost everywhere else:

… new home size in the U.S. is decidedly extravagant compared to that in other countries.  A survey and data comparison conducted by the (now-defunct, unfortunately) British Commission on Architecture and the Built Environment found the size of an average new American home built in the 2000s to be approximately twice as large in floor space as one in Spain or France, and nearly three times as large as the average in the U.K.

So what’s happening to the McMansions:

U.S. overbuilt in big houses, planners find

40 million houses too many – one explanation for falling prices

America has too many big houses — 40 million, to be exact — because consumers are shifting preferences to condos, apartments and small homes, experts told the New Partners for Smart Growth Thursday …

Relying on developers’ surveys, Chris Nelson, who heads the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah, said 43 percent of Americans prefer traditional big, suburban homes but the rest don’t.

“That means we are out of balance in terms of where the market is right now, let alone trending toward the future,” he said.

He estimated that this demand suggests a need for 10 million more attached homes and 30 million more small homes on 4,000-square-foot lots or less. By contrast, demand for large-lot homes is 40 million less than currently available.

“Is it any wonder that suburban homes are plummeting in price, because there is far less demand of those homes than in the past,” he said.

What do some of the younger buyers want?

Joe Molinaro, who heads the smart growth program at the National Association of Realtors, shared the results of 2004 and 2011 consumer surveys to explain why preferences are changing.

Factors include a desire for shorter commutes, walkable neighborhoods, economic considerations and, in the case of Generations X and Y, born between 1965 and 2000, they want the non-car mobility they did not get as youngsters.

“Having the freedom not to be tied down to a vehicle all the time is a big plus to that generation,” Molinaro said.

More here from U-T San Diego.

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