A surplus of 5 million McMansion in the United States?

In the middle of a review of the Foreclosed exhibit at MoMA, a housing analyst makes an interesting statement about the surplus of housing currently in the United States:

It’s still easier to borrow for a McMansion, even though the U.S. has about five million too many of them, according to Arthur C. Nelson, a housing analyst who directs the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah.

Nelson was also cited in stories about turning McMansions into affordable housing that I wrote about back in October 2011. In that story, it was said that there “America [is] saddled with about 30 million more homes on large lots than the market needs.” Whether the number if 30 million or 5 million or even 1 million, that is still a large glut of homes that must be hampering the housing market.

I wonder if Nelson is defining a McMansion just by square footage. This is the most basic trait of a McMansion when the term is generally used though it is unclear how big a home has to be in order to be called a McMansion. Is 3,000 square feet big enough? Is 10,000 square feet more of a mansion than a McMansion? We could also ask whether a home this size necessarily is a McMansion as it may be an older home or it may have more architectural quality than a McMansion is assumed to have.


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