Dude People Want Smaller Homes Sort Of

Dated: August 27 2019

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Dude, people want smaller homes (sort of)

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Tiny homes are all the rage these days on HGTV, but most people would never pull the trigger on something that size. But the truth is homes in the United States are actually getting smaller lately. Well, sort of. Let’s talk about it.

Why this matters: Knowing a real estate market isn’t just about prices, but understanding what is happening to the housing stock.

Bigger homes in the United States (except lately): New homes seventy years ago were literally one-third the size they are now. So clearly buyers expect much larger homes today. But when looking at recent stats, the size of new homes has actually shrunk over the past few years according to the National Association of Home Builders. Why the shrinkage? Lots of people chalk it up to younger buyers entering the market and needing lower prices. Keep in mind new homes are still an average of 2,300+ sq ft though, so even if buyers are craving smaller homes, these dwellings are massive compared to decades ago.

How has home size changed in Sacramento? Like the United States, homes have definitely grown in size over the past two decades in Sacramento. In fact, based on MLS sales since 1998 we’ve seen the average home size increase by 11.6% and the median size increase by 15.2%.

What happens to home size during recessions? What’s going on with the dip in size after 2007? According to the National Association of Home Builders, the historical pattern is to see new home size fall after recessions as buyers tighten their budgets. Then as the economy improves we tend to see home size increase. The interesting part is we see this trend among new homes nationally and with MLS sales locally.

CLOSING THOUGHTS:

1) Baby Boomers & Millennials: In coming time we’re going to have lots of Baby Boomers downsizing and looking for smaller homes. As for Millennials we’ll keep learning what they want as they enter the housing market.

2) Marketability during recessions: With so much talk about a coming recession, let’s keep an eye on larger homes. Will they be less marketable during the next recession? Will buyers tend to gravitate toward smaller homes? These are key questions.

3) Smaller but not inexpensive: New homes have shrunk in size these past few years, but we’re nowhere near being able to call them inexpensive. The irony of course is society tends to expect new construction to be affordable for first-time buyers, but new homes are actually more expensive by virtue of being brand new. The truth is less expensive homes tend to be found more readily in the older housing stock instead of brand new subdivisions. It’s like shopping for a used car instead of the latest shiny brand new model.

I hope this was interesting or helpful.

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