Big Homes Stage a Comeback

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine

After five years of downsizing, home owners are showing a desire for more space. In the past year, builders are reporting higher demand for larger homes.

In fact, 84 percent of home owners between the ages of 18 and 59 say they have no intentions of downsizing–even among Baby Boomers who often show preferences to downsize during retirement, according to a recent survey by PulteGroup of about 500 home owners. Many home owners–particularly younger generations–are saying they need more space than what they currently have.

The average size of a newly built home was 2,480 square feet in 2011–a 3.7 percent increase from 2010, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. That marks the first annual increase in home square footage since 2007.

“Homebuyers, regardless of their stage of life, still want and need larger homes,” says Deborah Meyer, PulteGroup’s chief marketing officer.

Home owners between the ages of 18 and 34 would like their next home to be larger than their current home, mostly to accommodate their growing family, according to the survey. Gen X home owners, between the ages of 35 and 54, mostly say they desire a larger home for their growing family and the need for more storage space.

Only 28 percent of those aged 55 to 59 said they want their home to be smaller, mostly due to retirement or an empty nest. Others desire a home the same size to their current home or bigger.

When it comes to extra space, nearly half of the home owners surveyed say they want larger, open spaces, including master bedrooms, larger rooms, and open floor concepts.

Home owners identified the following top five “must haves” in their next home, according to the PulteGroup survey:

  • Larger rooms
  • Master bedrooms suites
  • More storage space
  • Patio/outdoor living space
  • Energy efficiency

“Many home owners say they can do without a formal dining and living room, and we’ve seen this trend for a while,” says Meyer. “House designs today are much more open and flowing as opposed to ‘fixed and formal.’ While home owners are moving away from these formal areas, they want better use of space to create more flex and practical spaces such as, large informal kitchen and dining areas, expanded laundry rooms, and planning centers.”

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. The flex space and open floor plans are sure true in our area of Minneapolis real estate. Many builders are installing built in desks in between kids bedrooms for home-work areas, floor plans are very open and the day of “formal” rooms seems to be out, at least for now.

    We have some neighborhoods of very large homes and are actually seeing many want to downsize rather than go up but I would assume that it varies in all areas.

  2. Yes, it is the inclination or requirement of every family to own a bigger house than the old one which they wish to sale. As the increased space is really a necessity for the family grows. Off-course the people aging from 50 to 65 do not desire a bigger house as they experience loneliness. And the other reasons to buy a bigger house can offer better facilities like a beautiful yard with greens to have a peace of nature to relax. buy my house can help to sell your house in the condition it is.