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Industry & Trends

Let’s Get Small, Home Builders Saying

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September 6, 2023 | Warren Shoulberg

Maybe the tiny home phenomenon has peaked or at least slowed down the past few years but the size of the average American home continues to be a case of the incredible shrinking house.

Maybe all those McMansions will eventually end up as historical preservation candidates as the typical American new home continues to get smaller and smaller.

A recent story in the Wall Street Journal reports that new single-family home sizes have decreased by 10% since 2018. Rocket Mortgage takes a longer view in a recent report on home sizes. After the average American home swelled from 1,660 square feet in 1973 through the following three decades it topped off at 2,687 square feet in 2015. That’s when it started to drop, according to Census Bureau numbers, and by 2022, it was down to 2,299 square feet. That’s still bigger than the late 20th Century but a significant drop from the peak levels.

The Wall Street Journal reported that developers and builders are getting these new homes smaller by “axing dining areas, bathtubs and separate living rooms. Secondary bedrooms and loft spaces are shrinking and sometimes disappearing.”

Another recent report, in the New York Times, said these smaller homes are finding approval as well because the average number of people living in a typical home had gone down from 4.6 in 1900 to just 2.58 by 2010. But a strange reversal has taken place since, with that number increasing slightly to 2.65. Experts said it was due to multi-generational households and those containing unrelated occupants. Whether that trend continues remains to be seen but smaller home sizes could present a challenge to that trend. Bunk beds, perhaps?

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