“Shunning the McMansion”

Earlier this week, US News & World Report ran a story titled “Why We’re Shunning the McMansion.” Here seems to be the main data in this article:

Only 9 percent of consumers surveyed said they wanted a home 3,200 square feet or larger, according to a recent study by the NAR, while the majority of house hunters—about 55 percent—preferred homes in the 1,400 to 2,600 square-foot range. Builders also plan to scale back new home sizes as well, with 9 out of 10 builders expecting to build smaller, lower-priced homes in the coming years, according to a study by the NAHB.

Despite the drop in desired median home square footage, Melman says it’s not so much a matter of downsizing as “right-sizing”—forgoing larger homes with unused space for smaller, more efficient and well-laid-out homes. Americans are reconsidering the notion of financially stretching themselves to the limit to purchase a large home. “The trend here is shelter value,” he says. “Affordability is driving the decisions. If you buy a home that’s a little bit smaller, that’s one way to get some control over energy costs and the overall costs of the home.”

The article goes on to say more about how affordability is the primary driver of this trend, particularly due to increased difficulties in obtaining mortgages.

Several things strike me in this summary:

1. What is the percentage of Americans surveyed who said they wanted a home between 2,600 and 3,200 square feet? If we knew this percentage, we could add this to the 9 percent who want a home bigger than 3,200 square feet. Why not say what percentage of Americans want a home bigger than the average new house size of roughly 2,450 square feet? Also, to better make this point, it would be helpful to compare this data to earlier surveys about what size homes Americans want.

2. I still would be interested in seeing some data about how much cheaper these smaller homes are. If one wants a smaller home but wants a lot of features, that still might cost quite a bit. And might we see some of the design trends of bigger homes, such as stucco exteriors or always-on gas lamps, trickle down to these smaller homes?

3. The article seems to set the size of McMansions at 3,200 feet and above. So all homes with this square-footage or above are automatically a McMansion?

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