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Go Big! New Homes' Square Footage Grows

Written by on Thursday, 05 June 2014 2:06 pm

Is the minimalist approach on its way out? According to new Census Bureau figures, it appears big is back when it comes to home size.

The housing crisis didn't just shrink a home's equity, it also shrank it's square footage. Smaller and highly efficient homes started to gain some attention. But not for long.

In 2013, the average new single-family house built was about 2,600 square feet. It seems not only do we need more square footage, but we also need air conditioning and more bedrooms and bathrooms. In 2013, of more than 569,000 new homes built, more than 251,000 had four bedrooms or more. A mere 59,000 had two or fewer bedrooms. Most new homes built had air conditioning installed. And plenty of bathrooms, 188,000 homes had three or more. Only 27,000 had one-and-a-half or fewer.

As the economy improves, builders are going big and claiming that's what homebuyers want. A big home certainly costs more to operate but it seems the historically low interest rates are helping encourage the sale of bigger homes. But big isn't necessarily the McMansions we once saw.

KB Homes is one of the developers that is seeing the rise in square footage. According to the Wall Street Journal, the developer reported a 13 percent increase from last year. Buyers are interested in their model homes that are pushing over 3,500 square feet.

So what do buyers want in a big home? Not the same as before. They want practical amenities. They're not necessarily buying a large home for its vaulted ceilings. Instead buyers are attracted to additional rooms such as a granny flat or a larger great room that helps add to a flowing floor plan.

These larger homes are on the rise in some cases because families are bringing elderly parents in to live with them. The added family and low interest rates are steering buyers to push for higher square footage since they can get a few hundred feet more and still be within their budget and, in some cases, not have to make larger mortgage payments. That's making it so they don't have to buy a smaller home and later face needing to remodel it. The convenience of having the extra space to begin with affords buyers the opportunity to decide how to use it –- for an office or an elderly parent, for instance. But even when household size wasn't being increased, (by extra family members moving in) buyers still leaned toward purchasing bigger homes.

Also fueling the desire for bigger homes is the optimistic attitude of consumers who today are feeling more confident in the economy. Some of these consumers have been packed into smaller homes and were afraid to trade up. Now, as things improve, they're ready to go big and upsize.

Larger kitchens, more rooms, three-car garages, two or more stories, patios, and spaces to spread out are all part of the "bigger is better" attitude that once again is beginning to prevail in America.

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  About the author, Phoebe Chongchua

Individual news stories are based upon the opinions of the writer and does not reflect the opinion of Realty Times.