New homes are shrinking. According to the the Census Bureau’s statistics, the median home new size in 2009 fell from 2,300 to 2,135 square feet. Are homeowners shifting away from McMansions? The market is soft. If new homes are smaller, is it a result of what consumers want or what builders can afford? Many new homes are built before buyers are arranged, so I’m not convinced that these figures represent a shift.
I do see that house prices are generally low, and in a rough economy, it may make sense for people to downsize. The market, however, seems to show that homeowners are staying put. Other than during the availability of the homebuyer tax credit, potential first-time homeowners are opting to rent rather than buy. On top of this, mortgage loans are difficult to obtain right now, so those who might consider moving to a house are finding they qualify for less than they’d like if they qualify at all.
Is your house typical? How well do these features of a typical American home in 2009 describe your living space?
- detached, single-family residence
- located in the suburbs
- 6 rooms
- 2 or more baths
- Central air conditioning
- Dishwasher and garbage dispenser
You can take this to the extreme. There has been some hype surrounding tiny houses. Could you live in a space measuring less than 100 square feet? If that is too much space for you, consider living out of your car. I’d like to believe I could manage to fit my life into 100 square feet, but I’ve done well to expand my life, including my ownership of stuff to fit the space available to me where I live. If forced to, I could eliminate my belongings, though living out of my car — a small Honda Civic — may be beyond my ability.
Published or updated September 22, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.