Are McMansions McHistory?

By February 17, 2009Uncategorized

This article from the Boston Herald


Home buyers apparently no longer believe that bigger is better.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that the median size of newly built houses dropped to 2,090 square feet for homes started in the third quarter, down 9 percent from three months earlier.

“Either by necessity or choice, (buyers) are willing to take a step back from McMansions,” said Gayle Butler, editor-in-chief of Better Homes and Gardens.

She said that these days, new-home purchasers want places that are “right-sized, organized and economized.”

A recent Better Homes and Gardens poll of 733 potential new-home buyers found that one in three wanted a house “somewhat smaller” or “much smaller” than their current places.

Builders are already responding to such a shift in demand.

Nearly 90 percent of developers surveyed by the National Association of Home Builders in January reported either already working on or planning to soon begin constructing a greater number of smaller housing units.

But as new homes shrink in size, buyers are looking to make the most of whatever space they expect to have.

For instance, Butler said she’s seeing a growing interest in “Wii-sized spaces” – family rooms flexible enough to accommodate a variety of devices, from video-game systems to fitness equipment.

People aren’t wasting outdoor space, either. Outdoor kitchens and entertaining areas are rising in popularity, Butler said.

Better Homes and Gardens also found that new-home buyers want:

Fewer luxuries. Some 35 percent of poll respondents considered high ceilings less important these days. Similarly, 20 percent or more of participants viewed luxury master-bedroom suites, upgraded landscaping and fancy finishes such as granite counters unimportant.

Eco-features. Roughly 90 percent of those taking the poll wanted energy-efficient heating/cooling systems in their new homes. Similarly, 31 percent desired geothermal heating.

Lots of storage. Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed considered ample storage areas and “no-space-wasted design” important.

Robin Avni of Iconoculture, a cultural-trends research firm, said full-sized freezers are also definitely “in” these days.

The reason: More homeowners in today’s tough economic times are stocking up on bulk foods and freezing what they don’t immediately use.

“(It’s) really all about going back to basics – a very practical kind of living,” Avni said. “If you look at your parents and your grandparents, they used to have a freezer. They used to buy stuff on sale and put it in the freezer and (save) it later.”


Now we just have to figure out how to re-purpose the millions of Behemoth Houses that already exist…