Americans Demand Super-Sized Housing

At an average of 2,600 square feet, new home construction in the U.S. hits record high.


Is bigger truly better? When it comes to house size, it appears a growing number of Americans would answer with a resounding “yes!”

Newly released Census data says the average size of single-family homes built in the U.S. in 2013 was 2,598 square feet. That’s plenty big.

Before the housing bubble burst, it seemed like everyone was building McMansions. But times have changed, and it’s the wealthy people who have driven the average home size to an all-time high. CNN Money said:

“If you had a lot of money in the stock market, it has doubled since 2009,” said Stephen Melman, director of Economic Services for the National Association of Home Builders.

And many have used those riches to buy even bigger places, he said.

At the same time, relatively few first-time homebuyers — the biggest market for smaller homes — are able to buy homes, said Melman.

While many potential young homebuyers are having a hard time getting a mortgage, other young people are saddled with student loan debt and not looking to purchase a home.

Because of this, the market for small homes (1,400 square feet or less), has dropped to just 4 percent of new home construction, CNN Money said. In 2005, the small-home market was at 9 percent.

While houses in the U.S. are growing in size, households are actually shrinking. That led The Washington Post to ask:

What, then, do we want all of this room for? What’s particularly striking in the Census Bureau’s historic data on new housing characteristics is the growth of what would be luxuries for many households: fourth bedrooms, third bathrooms, three-car garages.

When I was in high school, I spent a summer living with my aunt and uncle in Graham, Wash. Through my aunt, I met a Spanish foreign exchange student who was spending a few months in America.

He was shocked at the size of American houses. He couldn’t understand why we would need or want so many rooms and so much space. He was also surprised that the vehicles we drove were so big — trucks and SUVs, and even our cars. He viewed our big homes and vehicles as a needless excess, and he was probably right.

What do you think of Americans’ desire for huge homes? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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