Last week’s AIA Housing Trends Survey indicated that Americans may already be turning away from smaller homes and building bigger again, after the 2008 housing market crash caused a decline for the first time in decades. This morning I spotted an item in the Middletown, New York, Times Herald-Record that gives me anecdotal hope about housing size.
In “Home Developer Thinks Small,” the newspaper reports that luxury home developer Woodstone Development is offering a new product for its gated community of million-dollar, 5,000-square-foot luxury homes in Bethel, New York: 1,250-square-foot Adirondack cabins with a starting price of $279,000. "Up until this point, we've only really addressed the top of the pyramid," Howard Schoor, Woodstone's chairman and CEO, told the newspaper. "This is designed more to meet the realities of 2011 — that people are downsizing." Schoor believes the smaller, less expensive homes will attract younger, more upwardly mobile home buyers.
A National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) survey released in April predicted that homes will become greener and smaller by 2015. According to Builder magazine, the average home is currently about 2,380 square feet, but the NAHB expects that to be 2,150 square feet by 2013. Stephen Melman, NAHB director of economic services, says that affordability is key. Home buyers, especially those looking at custom homes, are saying ‘This is how much I can spend. How can we make it fit?’ ” he says.
Surveys can be wrong. I firmly believe that we'll see tremendous growth in the small home market yet.