Real estate news: America’s homes are getting bigger

Real estate news: America's homes are getting biggerAccording to recent statistics from the American Census Bureau, homes built last year in the USA broke housing records, becoming larger than ever before. The average size of properties constructed in 2013 was 2,598 square feet: over 200 square feet larger than the average property built at the height of the housing boom.

Over the past 30 years the size of the average American property has grown by more than 150%, giving homeowners around 873 square feet more than they would have enjoyed in 1983. To capitalise on this extra space, properties now have more rooms than previously, with home offices, playrooms and ‘FROGs’ (Family Room Over the Garage) proving increasingly popular. Siblings today are also less likely to share a room, with affluent families typically looking for homes with at least as many bedrooms as there will be inhabitants.

However, figures also suggest that the average American household is decreasing in size year-on-year, as fewer families live with multiple generations under one roof. This then poses an intriguing question: if this ‘supersizing’ in the housing market is not a reflection of burgeoning families, then why are American homes getting bigger?

A closer assessment of the situation suggests that two factors are behind the current property growth spurt: the buoyant stock market, and a shift in demand that has seen a decline in popularity for smaller homes.

As Stephen Melman, the director of Economic Services for the National Association of Home Builders explains, ‘if you had a lot of money in the stock market, it has doubled since 2009′. He suggests that, as investors find their financial portfolios growing, they are choosing to funnel their returns into bricks and mortar: securing larger, more comfortable homes for their families.

Conversely, while demand for larger properties has grown, the demand for smaller properties has fallen. Only 4% of properties built in 2013 were of 1,400 square feet or less; a marked decrease from 2005, when that figure stood at 9%. This decrease in demand for smaller homes is likely due to the fact that there are fewer first time buyers in the market. Studies have shown that the ‘millennial’ generation are more likely to postpone their first property purchase, and as a result, are able to purchase properties one step up from the traditionally smaller starter home.

The increased popularity of large properties has also seen a rise in the number of homes built measuring over 4,000 square feet. Nearly a tenth (9%) of new homes built in 2013 fell into this size bracket, while properties between 3,000 and 4,000 square feet accounted for over a fifth of newly built properties (21.7%). Less than 60,000 new homes were built with less than two bedrooms, while more than 250,000 boasted four or more bedrooms.

Whether you are interested in scaling up the size of your property, or are considering a second home in the USA, visit Engel & Völkers. With offices across the United States from New York to Los Angeles, we are ideally placed to assist you in your search.