Americans Demand Super-Sized Housing

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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.

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Comments & discussion

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  • Joseph Freitas

    It may be needless excess to have big house and car but so is most everything most everyone has except the poorest of the poor in the third world.
    I mean we once cave dwellers. Our NEEDS havn’t changed since then. so outside of a cave, a deer leg, a water source, and a bear skin, everything is excess. Just sayin… Let’s not get on our soap box.

  • I.Popoff

    I think you mean Wealthy Americans Demand Super-Sized Housing.

  • tigersfan61

    Who cares? Why should this even be discussed?

  • alwaysconservative

    Some people in other countries pay as much for a shack as what we pay for a 3000 square foot McMansion. They also have poor dental care, and buy their meat in an open air market with the flies crawling all over it. I don’t care to emulate that way of life so quite honestly I don’t care what they think about the size of our houses. Aren’t we supposed to all respect cultural differences? I think that what that really means is that we should respect everyone else but they are free to criticize us. I don’t buy into that way of thinking.

    • itwasfree

      In what other countries are people paying ~$500k USD to live in a shack, have poor dental care, and buying meat with flies all over it? Your reasoning sounds like how you justify your (potentially) excessive lifestyle. Good for you if you can afford it though…I don’t begrudge anyone spending their money as they see fit.

  • speaksthetruth

    If I am paying 150k for a house, it has to be bigger then my closet. Yes, I want a big house. That’s why I’m paying a big fee