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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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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 16, 2014 7:23 pm

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  2. Thomas Beyer permalink
    August 17, 2014 2:01 pm

    One reason why I immigrated to Canada was to be able to afford a BIGGER house/home. I prefer big over small, all things being equal. Of course things, like driving distance or heating costs or property taxes are not equal.

    On my many trips to Europe the first thing I always realize is how small things are: roads, condos, fridges .. and I prefer big over small.

    The US and Canada also have far more land per capita than say UK, Germany or Netherlands. Of course houses are therefore bigger as the same sq ft of land incl. construction costs are lower.

    Yes, many folks prefer to walk to work or bike, but many work at home or do not mind the odd trip by car. It is also more fun to live in a big house with a yard if you have 2+ kids like we did. Kinda’ tight in a 1200 ft condo on the 38th floor. Not every family wants that.

    As such, urban planning needs to provide all sorts of housing: mansions, mere estates, average houses, duplexes, townhouses, 4-plexes, mid-rises or high rises with condos or apartments from 200 sq ft to 4000 sq ft to cater to all sorts of tastes and budgets.

    I also agree that road infrastructure is not properly priced, i.e. too cheap and if one prices the land cost, servicing costs and annual maintenance of it car use would be, should be far more expensive, and as such suburbs smaller or closer or more pricey. Free parking and free road use should be a thing of the past. Gasoline taxes are far too low and in an age of emerging e-cars other taxation techniques, like road tolls or vehicle levies by engine size or car size, as proposed by MetroVan Mayors is the right approach !

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