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by Jonathan Shihadeh
We’ve seen it with our cars – gas-guzzling SUVs with enough space and amenities to house a small family. We’ve seen it with our burgers, steaks, fries and colas – super-sized to the point of excess. Bigger is better in America, and that trend has not been lost on the housing market.
From 1950 to 2004, the average size of American homes inflated from 983 to 2,349 square feet – a 140% increase. Features that used to be considered luxuries, such as two or three-car garages, high ceilings, chef kitchens and full basements, have now become standard – and these homes are just average.
The McMansions, Mega-Houses or Starter Castles – as they have been aptly named – include homes that range anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 square feet and up. These houses are massive, unnecessary, many of them eerily similar in appearance and design, and quite out of place in some of the quaint, traditional neighborhoods that they end up in.
With the housing crash a few years ago, you would think that these monstrous, cookie-cutter symbols of the American Dream would start to disappear, and they did – for a while. As gas prices soared, the economy fell into recession, and the housing market crashed, many Americans started to rethink their decision to live 45 minutes away and drive a tank to work.
New home buyers began to seek out smaller homes within their budget, and in neighborhoods that were closer to their work. The epitome of middle class excess during the Housing Bubble started to give way to more practical ways of living. But it didn’t last.
The American Dream
After the financial and economic downturn, tighter restrictions were placed on new-home buyers. Most were looking at 20% down payments for their new home, and for those with less than perfect credit the situation looked pretty bleak.
This changed the market. By shifting the regulations on who is able to buy new homes, fewer people remained in that market. The ones that were left were the ones with money. People not as well off were forced to buy smaller homes or not buy at all, while the ones with pristine credit and assets in the bank looked to trade up for bigger and better.
Now, the average home buyer is wealthier than before the housing crash. They are able to continue super-sizing, and most of them probably will. Whether or not anyone has learned that bigger is not always necessarily better is yet to be seen.
But recent figures show that the average new home size is still hovering around the 2,500 square-foot mark. According to the 2012 National Census Bureau, the average size for an American home was 2,306 square feet.
Some new home buyers are going in the opposite direction – purposely purchasing new micro-homes with just enough space and accommodations necessary to live. But for the vast majority of Americans, it seems that bigger is still better – at least for right now.
Stephen Hollowell is the Social Media Specialist at Realty Commander. Stephen has written numerous articles on the real estate industry, real estate marketing practices, and regularly conducts interviews and research to get an inside look at the habits of successful agents. Contact Jonathan Shihadeh: jonathan
Hudson, Kris. “Return of the McMansion.” The Wall Street Journal. August 26, 2013. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323980604579031350928407682
Solomon, Christopher. “The swelling McMansion backlash.” msn Real Estate. http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=13107733
Weissman, Jordan. “Will the McMansion Ever Die?” The Atlantic. June 25, 2013. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/06/will-the-mcmansion-ever-die/276563/