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Are Smaller Homes En Vogue?

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Demand for huge houses is waning. It seems that the average house being built in the third quarter of 2008 was 2,438 square feet, down to almost the size demanded in 2005. Several factors have gathered in what seems like a perfect storm in the housing industry...a rising environmental consciousness, a struggling real estate market and economic pressures on household budgets, all contribute to new attitudes regarding our homes. People are starting to really take stock as to what is important and what can easily be maintained and paid for over the long term and downsizing their housing requirements.

This article, on The Simple Dollar, reveals such self-reflection, assessment and prioritization:

"...the square footage shouldn’t be the primary factor when choosing a house. Although there are times when it feels good to have room to spread out, most of the space is completely unused most of the time (except for storage of things we probably don’t really need to keep). Even more important, choosing a lower square footage usually means much less expense over the long haul - you don’t really lose living space, but you do lose storage space, which means that you can’t accumulate as much stuff, which thus means you’ve got less money invested in material items that are just tossed into storage."

I imagine that many future home buyers will be similarly taking a hard look at what they really need. Also, I imagine many current home owners are re-evaluating their needs as well. The age of practicality is here.

This is good news for the Pocono real estate market. We have plenty of modest-sized housing available. The homes built for vacation use in the 1980's and 90's may experience a shift in demand by primary home-buyers (in addition to the steady supply of vacation home buyers) once again. Perhaps first time home buyers will once again start buying small and 'move up' as the household needs change, like our parents and grandparents did...allowing the natural growth of home equity fund their eventual purchase of 'the dream home,' starting small and graduating to something bigger the good old fashioned way. Yes, this is good for the real estate market and the socio-economic health of our area in general. After all, financially stable households require less support from the community. Less pressure to pay that huge housing expense may mean commuting to New York City for higher wage work is not as critical for all breadwinners in the house, allowing for more time to focus on household and family needs.

How much house do you really need?



Hi Lisa,

I agree to what you're saying. Houses are rather big, compared for what they will be used for (smaller families). Then again, in Europe and Australia there is a trend that families are still rather large (4+ ppl).

I found your site via google. My wife runs a blog herself:
I hope it's OK that I put the link in here. Just to let you know that this is not spam.

But coming back to your point on this post, I wouldn't be surprised that in 10 years time, people will want to have bigger homes, because of demographics. Maybe that location will be less important because of information technology that we don't necessarily have to travel that much anymore. Working from home will be the norm. Who knows. Time will tell.

From a wet and rainy Melbourne,


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