House Size Still Increasing

From USAToday:

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.”

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Kullervo

    We just bought a three-bedroom house (me, wife, three kids, one more on the way), but it’s also more than 60 years old.

  • Phil Miller

    My wife and I live in a house that was originally built in 1926. The person we bought it from (a developer) totally renovated the interior – refinished the hardwood floors, finished the basement, put in a new HVAC system, etc. Including the basement, it’s around 1900 sq. ft. It’s three bedrooms and three baths. The crazy thing to me is that the couple that had lived in the house prior to the developer buying it from them had raised 6 children in the house. That was without the basement being finished and without one of the bathrooms. So it was maybe 1300 sq. ft. of living space they had.

  • gingoro

    I suspect that lower income and first time buyers are being priced out of the market in the burbs that have been recently built.


  • Esther Aspling

    Our house is 2,300 sq ft, but we have 8 people in it. I personally think it’s just enough space.

  • Jeff Weddle

    I’m guessing this is also related to the story the other day about Americans and vacation as compared to Europeans, who typically have smaller houses.

  • Susan Gerard

    This is sobering, although I understand the multigenerational aspect; we have experienced this. The most disturbing news in the article for me, however, was this: “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

  • attytjj466

    To me it reflects many culture trends. Pressure/desire to have what others have and live how others live. The materialism that permeates our culture. The desire for personal kingdoms (palaces). The fact that families live fragmented lives, what more and more personal space. The home is the biggest statement of status and wealth and success that one can have in our culture.