A good news update to my previous post on the up-sizing of houses: Americans may have reached their limit. The New York Times reports that the size of new houses may be leveling off. While the average size of new homes grew by around 50% from 1970 to 2001, the past few years have seen very little increase.
What could be causing the trend? According to the New York Times, people are trading quality for quantity. Not only do builders have anecdotal evidence, but a nationwide survey in 2004 found that, for the same price, 63 percent of respondents would prefer a smaller house with more amenities than a larger house with fewer amenities. That’s up from 49 percent in 2000. The article also suggests that houses have finally become as large as people say they want them to be—reality finally matches the American Dream.
I wonder if the housing boom plus the recession curtailed house sizes: people frenzied to buy a house, who don’t have the money for the big house they really want, settle for smaller. But optimistically, I’ll hope that people’s preferences for McMansions have actually changed (not just as a fad) and that they’ve realized how much more giant houses cost to furnish and maintain. With rising energy prices, size can make a big difference.