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Industry & Trends

Smaller Homes with Fewer Doors and Cabinets: How Builders Are Adapting

The American home has always been a moving target but that is more so as builders look for new ways to make them more affordable.

It may be smaller, perhaps a little narrower and certainly it has fewer doors, windows and cabinets: Home builders are continuing to find ways to make new homes less expensive for buyers pressed with higher mortgages and interest rates. 

Following decades when “bigger is better” ruled the home building business, the trend seems to have finally topped out and begun to go in the opposite direction according to new data and research findings. 

A recent Wall Street Journal study reported that the median size of a new home dropped 4 percent over the past year to 2,179 square feet. That would be the lowest since 2010. “That’s helped bring down overall costs and contributed to a 6% dip in newhome prices in the same period,” the Journal wrote. Builders are saving construction costs by putting up smaller and taller homes with few windows, cabinets and doors.

“Even a slightly smaller home can be thousands of dollars cheaper — for both builders and buyers,” Andy Winkler, director of housing and infrastructure at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, told the WSJ. “This is a trend driven by just how unaffordable housing has become, with sky-high prices, rising interest rates and so few homes for sale.”

Big home builder firms like D.R. Horton and Toll Brothers are addressing the need to make new houses more affordable, the report said, by downsizing them as well as making them simpler to construct. 

“Smaller homes are cheaper at the moment, for both builders and buyers, but it’s hard for me to fathom this becoming a long-term trend,” Winkler said. “Americans haven’t become suddenly enamored with small houses. They just can’t afford anything else.”

So even if smaller starter homes aren’t exactly fulfilling the classic American dream it’s what home shoppers are dreaming of today and home builders are increasingly moving to turn those dreams into realities. 

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