Skolnick's Scoop / Big homes remain in demand
Published 1:15 pm, Thursday, September 1, 2011
Real estate agents and builders throughout the nation are expecting increases in house sizes to level off in the not-so-distant future as increasing numbers of the huge Baby Boomer generation become empty-nesters. Homeowners are beginning to question the need for large living spaces, particularly as energy prices rise.
However, overall, statistics show that Americans' appetite for the largest possible home is still strong.
The changes in the average, newly built home over the past five decades are staggering, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. In 1950, the average new house had about 1,000 square feet of living space, two bedrooms and one bathroom. Nearly 60 percent had a one-car garage or carport. Forty percent had no garage at all. Two-car garages existed only in an architect's imagination in 1950.
Twenty years later, the average new home was 1,500 square feet with three bedrooms. About half the new houses still had one full bath in 1970; the other half had two or more. Forty percent of new homes had a two-car garage.
By 1990, the average new house was 2,100 square feet. By then, the vast majority -- 85 percent -- had three or more bedrooms. Eighty-seven percent had at least two full bathrooms, and 72 percent had at least a two-car garage.
Each year since 1990, house sizes have crept up. By 2004, the average size of a new home was about 2,350 square feet. The biggest change since 1990 was garage size. Twenty years ago, three-car garages were a custom flourish for the rich and famous. Now, 20 percent of all new homes have them.
Will house size ever level off? Or will houses continue to grow?
The jury is still out. Experts say energy costs may play an even bigger role in keeping the average house size in the 2,000- to 2,500-square-foot range.
"Attitudes are changing," according to architect Sarah Susanka, the author of "Not So Big House." "Several years ago, everyone wanted a formal dining room and a formal living room -- even if those spaces were never used. Now, we're seeing less of that." She has a simple credo: "If you don't use a room more than a half-dozen times a year, you don't need it."
Even if Westport residents do decide to scale down the size of their new construction homes, we will continue to see great quality and the latest technological advances built right in.
Linda Skolnick's "Skolnick's Scoop" appears every other Friday. She is a Realtor with Prudential Connecticut Real Estate in Westport, can be reached by calling 203-246-0088 or through her website, www.GoAskLinda.com.