Why Are New Homes Shrinking?
For the first time since the Great Recession, new homes are getting smaller. In the second quarter this year, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says the median single-family square area fell by 73 feet.
One reason the NAHB gives for the drop is an increase in first time buyers — they typically choose smaller houses. But, Hal Looney, Arizona president of Shea Homes Active Lifestyle Communities, thinks design plays a role, too. In response to buyer demand, he said they’re building more efficient houses with less formal space.
“We’ve engineered out the hallways and the wasted space and they’re more open floor plans and so when you walk in them they feel more grand,” he said. “A 2,000 square foot home today feels like a home might have felt 10 years ago that was 3,000 square feet.”
Looney says the Phoenix market usually follows the national average when it comes to size. So far this year, the average new home in Phoenix is 2,544 square feet. In 2011, the average was 2,294 square feet.
“It’s been going up pretty consistently since 2009 and ’10 and I don’t think it continues to go up,” he said. “At some point it’s got to normalize and kind of get at some level of affordability.”