American House Shrinkage

I haven’t been keeping up on my NAHB reports lately, but thankfully someone else has picked up the slack. According to Treehugger, those report reading over-achievers, the size of new homes in America has finally stopped it’s seemingly endless progression into the realm of gargantuan absurdity. In fact, in a shockingly uncharacteristic bout of logic, new home sizes in the United States have actually decreased slightly. Apparently the average new home in the US is about 100 square feet smaller than it was just a couple years back. This may seem like an insignificant amount, but it is the change of direction that matters. Much like the bear that was only moments ago charging you and your cowering family and is now, for some reason, walking away, it is less the speed of the retreat than the fact that the bear is no longer intent on eating you.

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In keeping with this shameless attempt to surprise me, new homes also sported less bedrooms and bathrooms. There are probably still too many of each, but it’s nice to see a decline of any sort in an industry that has only been about more and bigger for as long as I can remember. New homes with 1.5 baths or less are still under 10% of the market even though households with 2 people or less are a significantly higher percentage, but at least we are making some progress toward less.

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Despite this news I remain skeptical. I think this is likely a brief respite from huge. We all remember when SUV sales plummeted due to high gas prices, and more importantly, we remember when they came right back once the cost of a gallon decreased. Our obsession with more is at times briefly effected by fluctuations in the economy, but it never seems to be completely derailed.

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Of course, I’m not here to rehash a Treehugger post. I’m here to start a conversation of some sort. To that end . . .

Does this report surprise you? Is it the start of a larger trend or just a brief hiccup in the ongoing bloating of American homes? Is this simply the economic downturn or are there other factors involved?

Talk about it in the comments.