A shift from the size of the McMansion to the quality of the large house

The Tennessean takes a look at a trend I have been hinting at for a while: people may willingly buy smaller homes but they also want an increase in quality.

After a slowdown caused by the recession, neighborhoods of million-dollar houses are being developed in Davidson County again. But please don’t call them McMansions.

Not long ago, homes in the million-dollar range were easy to spot because of their size, typically 6,000 square feet or more. Today, the average size has shrunk to between 3,500 and 5,000 square feet of space, according to developers.

That’s the size of many less expensive houses, but homes with seven-figure price tags have individual architectural designs and other features that won’t be found in a typical subdivision house, says Alan Looney, president of Castle Homes…

Buyers are interested in quality of construction, not quantity of square feet, says Eric Bentley, construction consultant for home builder Carbine & Associates.

Is this an improvement for those who decry the architecture or design of McMansions or the environmental impact of these larger houses? The improved quality of these large homes may just fit Bourdieu’s ideas that quality and aesthetics are more important to the educated classes rather than the size and functionality that those with money might go after. At the same time, this is taking place during an economic downturn and we don’t know the profiles of these buyers – are these people who had also had plenty of money before the recession and are only now buying houses because they desire quality and not size? Or is the downtown leading a whole bunch of people to reconsider their priorities when money is more scarce?

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