WSJ declares 2014 the “year of the McMansion”

The “Characteristics of New Housing” 2014 report shows more new homes had McMansion features:

Meanwhile, 2014 will go into the history books as the year of the McMansion. The percentage of homes built with four or more bedrooms last year was 12 percentage points higher than at the housing market’s recent nadir in 2009. The same goes for the percentage built last year with three or more bathrooms. Those built with three-car garages was up seven percentage points from its trough in 2010…

The annual Characteristics of New Housing report found that 46% of single-family homes constructed last year had four or more bedrooms, up from 44% in 2013 and from 34% in 2009. Thirty-six percent of the homes built last year had three or more bathrooms, up from 33% in 2013. Meanwhile, two-car garages remain the norm, but they’re receding in popularity – to 62% of homes built last year from 64% in 2013 — while three-car garages increased to 23% from 21%.

The latest numbers are a reflection of a multiyear run-up in median new-home sizes, fueled by builders’ focus on better-heeled buyers with better credit while entry-level and first-time buyers largely remained sidelined in the recovery.

This evidence fits with a narrative of the return of McMansions (though perhaps it is a blip): new homes were larger and they had more bedrooms, bathrooms, and garages. At the same time, these homes aren’t necessarily McMansions just because of these features. Other criteria for being a McMansion includes:

1. The proportions of the new home next to homes nearby. Are these homes primarily suburban/exurban builds or are they teardowns (which are on the rise) in established neighborhoods?

2. What is the quality of these homes? McMansions are often said to be poor construction or have bad layouts.

3. Are these homes primarily for wealthier residents or people trying to show off their status?

Having a larger house may be the beginning of defining a home as a McMansion but it is not the end.

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