Buyers Want Large Homes Again

“That house, add the extra bedroom and super-size the family room”. The median new-home size in 2012 reached a record high at 2,306 square feet, according to newly released Census Bureau data. Forget the idea that getting smaller was anything more than a function of smaller wallets.  CNNMoney reports that it wasn’t that Americans wanted less space, they just couldn’t afford more space at the time. Now, they’re up-sizing again.

Part of this desire for space likely has to do with the changing face of the families that occupy homes. More households are multigenerational; it’s not uncommon for older parents and relatives to move in as health care costs rise. Many families see the return of older children that either cannot find sustainable employment or seek to return home to save money. And part of this may simply have to do with familiarity; downsizing may be a mistake for some and a change of lifestyle is not always positive. And part of this is simply what buyers want.

It seems that downsizing was economically driven, buyers couldn’t afford larger homes. Many can now.

Home buyers also want quality, high-end amenities, even if it means living in a smaller home to get them. Of those polled, 62 percent favored high-quality products over space. They want a double sink in the kitchen and both a tub and stall shower in the bath. They prefer French doors to standard and garage storage systems. They also want technology, from wireless home security systems to whole-house electronic features that control entertainment and utilities.

And the idea that the suburbs are done? Not so fast. Just 8 percent of those surveyed want to live in a city center, 36 percent prefer the outer suburbs, 30 percent the close-in suburbs and 27 percent still want the old-fashioned, rural American living. This counters recent assertions by those in the apartment sector that Americans are increasingly seeking a more urban lifestyle.

Research, polls and exhaustive studies about housing tend to reinforce one very well known consistent, all real estate is local. National studies are always interesting but like all things national, the real trends are best studied at the local level. What’s trending in Atlanta is different from New York City, from Miami and from Reno. While the variables are many with any national study, we are seeing the local market participants growing more confident and the desire for larger homes is clearly apparent.