America’s families may be shrinking, but our houses never got the memo: They’re moving in the opposite direction.
Census Bureau data out this week show that the size of new homes keeps rising even as Americans over the past two generations have had fewer children.
At 2,306 square feet, the typical new home is about 50% larger than its 1973 counterpart while the typical family is 10% smaller and the typical household 15% smaller. The Census Bureau defines a family as two or more people living in the same home who are related by birth, marriage or adoption. A household consists of anyone living in a home regardless of their relationship.
If trends in new home sales hold, the next year or so could bring a key shift: The three-bedroom home that has dominated the housing landscape since the Census Bureau began tracking it in 1973 could be knocked off its perch for the first time by a bigger model.
Industry observers say plus-sized houses fill an increasingly important role as smaller families come to expect more of their home and as multigenerational families proliferate, with aging grandparents, adult children and even friends added to the household mix.
“Suddenly that three-bedroom home got really, really tiny,” says Stephen Melman, an economist for the National Association of Home Builders.
Three-bedroom homes still dominate overall housing: 47% of buyers of new and used homes picked three-bedroom models last year, while 26% bought four or more bedrooms, according to the National Association of Realtors. Data for new homes tell a different story.
The share of new homes with three bedrooms dropped from 53% in 2009 to 46% in 2012.New houses with four or more bedrooms snagged 41% of the market last year, their highest share ever. Smaller houses — two bedrooms or fewer — accounted for just one in five new homes in 2012. ….
Homeowners also are increasingly turning bedrooms into multimedia rooms so family members can watch different TV shows or use the Internet away from the din of the family room, Lautz says: “We’re a multimedia generation.”