Shrinking Homes?

Builders, Buyers, and the Census Board agree, homes are shrinking.

Let’s go back to the first few years of the new millenium, really any time before 2009. In popular Massachusetts suburbs like Groton, Wellesley, Weston, and Needham, builders were building 3,500 plus square foot traditional New England-style homes and selling them around $800,000. Other areas like Dover and Sudbury were even seeing monster, 7,000-8,000 square footers sold to business executives at even higher prices, and this trend hasn’t really changed in post-recession 2010. Dover and Sudbury, however, seem to be exceptions to the overall trend of building 2,500-3,500 square foot homes, cutting out traditional dining rooms and other frivolities to save money.

Christopher and Jessica Snow, first-time home buyers, found that their dream home was a “2,500-square-foot contemporary Colonial they bought for $489,000 in a fast-growing Groton subdivision,” according to Boston Globe correspondent Scott Van Voorhis. The couple continues, “We didn’t need to go that big — it’s just too much. We wouldn’t pay a premium for that extra space.’’

It appears that smaller, compact, modest, inexpensive, and “green” homes are the latest trend in post-recession America. Van Voorhis reports, “While housing starts and building permits are up modestly across the country this year after a dismal 2009, the average size of new homes has been shrinking. By the end of last year, the average home size had dropped to 2,373 square feet, from a peak of 2,507 square feet in 2007, the US Census Bureau reports.”

Developers are slashing square footage by eschewing formal dining rooms, eliminating 3-season rooms or decks, and designing more open, fluid floor plans that save square footage by having kitchens flow into dining rooms. The Globe quotes developers saying that people are less certain in their job security, and that ramping up square footage and cost is driving buyers away.

As the trend continues and homes are shrinking, so are the lots that they are being built on. These post-recession neighborhoods are comprised of smaller homes, on smaller lots, on smaller streets, closer to their neighbors. Some like their areas, claiming that the new neighborhood style promotes community-building with block party’s and magic shows, while others are left wishing they had more privacy.

Consensus? Are smaller homes indeed the latest trend in suburbian home design? Are monster houses going to make a comeback now that the market is on the rebound? Leave a comment below, let us know what your thinking!

And don’t think just because CondoDomain specializes in city living doesn’t mean we disregard the suburbs! Check out our MLS listings that cover the entire Greater Boston Area, HERE, at CondoDomain!

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