That’s according to the US Census Bureau, which reports that the average home built in 2016 was 2,634 square feet, representing the first decrease in home size since 2009.
“The data on new home characteristics show a pattern,” noted Rose Quint, assistant vice president for Survey Research at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). “2016 marked the end of an era that began in 2009 when homes got bigger and bigger with more amenities. I expect the size of homes to continue to decline as demand increases from first-time buyers.”
First-time homebuyers typically choose smaller homes, fueling the trend, notes the NAHB. But modern home design may play a role, as well. Hal Looney, Arizona president of Shea Homes Active Lifestyle Communities, explains that homes feel bigger now, due to open concept design.
“We’ve engineered out the hallways and the wasted space and they’re more open floor plans and so when you walk in them they feel more grand,” he said. “A 2,000 square foot home today feels like a home might have felt 10 years ago that was 3,000 square feet.”
Like others, Looney predicts smaller homes will be desired as time goes on, for one very practical reason: they cost less. “At some point it’s got to normalize and kind of get at some level of affordability,” he said.