Portland Metro/Tigard Real Estate News

In this forum we will offer discussions on a wide variety of subjects, but focus on Portland Metro and real estate. Hopefully our insights and experiences will inform, educate, challenge and entertain our readers week after week.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Shrinking Homes

Americans have always considered bigger to be better, but in today's housing market times seem to be changing.

In previous years it had been predicted that there would be a mass downsizing of the American home. Yet the average size of a new home continued to rise from just over 1,600 square feet in the late 1970s to nearly 2,300 now.

But a number of trends suggest that this time Americans really might be ready to downsize. For instance, baby boomers are increasingly becoming empty-nesters and naturally they need less space. Also, between 1970 and 2000, the percentage of nuclear families went from 40% of households to 24%, according to the Census Bureau. Childless families are expected to increase. These types of families tend to spend more time away from home and simply do not have time required to maintain a large home. An example of these childless homes are the Generations X and Yers who want to reside downtown where all the restaurants and entertainment live and offer a minimal commute and smaller, easier-to-care-for living spaces.

In a February survey of potential home buyers by the National Association of Home Builders, 60% said they would rather have a smaller house with more amenities than the other way around. Online house-pricing service Zillow.com found that less expensive houses appreciate more than costlier and presumably larger homes.

New, smaller places will have to pay extra attention to design and features rather than plain space. Dying off are the rooms that, it turns out, are not actually being used. Grand muli-level foyers are impressive but are also a massive waste of space. Rooms that have more than one use will become selling points. Formal living rooms will not be needed as everyone will be in the family room. Formal dining rooms will disappear as well because the slightly larger eating area in the kitchen will already serve that purpose. Built in storage will be a must, just because they are living small does not mean they want to live in clutter.



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