With the economy still stagnating and people wondering if things will ever get back to “normal,” there is a new trend arising in the housing market.
Downsizing homes is a big idea. More and more people are making do with a smaller living space in order to save money, conserve energy and hopefully improve credit scores….
Three or four years ago, development was king. Regular families flipped houses as investments to move up the property ladder, greed often fueling their desires for McMansions and “Starter Castles.”
Now, the demand is for tiny houses that leave a smaller carbon footprint and – of course – cost less to buy and maintain. Oversized houses with bonus rooms, dens, workshops, multiple bathrooms and three or four car garages are sitting empty on the real estate market. People are choosing to live near walking and biking trails rather than in golf course-style resorts.
Is this a new awakening by the American public, or is it simply a sign of the economic times?
Whatever you might call it, the trend is so profound that even Wikipedia makes note of the McMansion backlash. Large oversized homes (over 3,000 square feet), generally built close together on lots that seem tiny by comparison, have been banned in some cities on aesthetic grounds.
Even if municipalities don’t legislate against oversized homes, public sentiment is in favor of downsizing. Green homes and smaller homes are getting back into vogue as many forms of excess are simply not tolerated in today’s economy.
Consider these statistics published in a home-buying trend report by Trulia:
- Only 9% surveyed said their ideal home size was over 3,200 square feet
- More than 33% said their ideal home size was under 2,000 square feet
Kermit Baker, chief economist at the American Institute of Architects, also recently observed:
“We continue to move away from the McMansion chapter of residential design, with more demand for practicality throughout the home. There has been a drop off in the popularity of upscale property enhancements such as formal landscaping, decorative water features, tennis courts, and gazebos.”
It makes sense that, by paring down their living spaces, Americans can get closer to true happiness. Get rid of the clutter and extra stuff you don’t need and you are left with the essentials:
Along with tiny houses, demand is rising for energy-efficient green homes with passive solar features, sustainable materials, water conservation measures and renewable energy-based electricity. Builders are garnering more interest from cautious homebuyers by touting the eco-friendly features of a smaller house than the extravagant excesses of a swimming pool, tennis court or indoor gym. Think of it as an environmental budget, as well!
One may ask whether the new trend for downsizing homes isn’t, in reality, a return to a more sustainable way of living? Did you know that in the 1960s, the average home was only 1,200 square feet (and families were larger by about one child than they are today!) Over the next 20 years, average home sizes grew to 1,700 square feet and then up to 2,300 square feet last decade. That’s nearly twice the home from just 50 years ago!
We think downsizing homes is a big idea, and one that should stay!
What do you think?