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Daily Real Estate News  |  March 27, 2007  |   Buyers Say Size Doesn't Matter
The decades-long explosion in residential square footage may be coming to an end, says Gopal Ahluwalia, the National Association of Home Builder’s vice president for research.

Although the size of the average home has been on the rise to 2,495 last year from 1,500 square feet in 1973 consumers are beginning to choose higher quality living spaces over additional square footage, according to Ahluwalia, who spoke at the recent International Builders Show in Orlando, Fla.

Architects, designers, manufacturers, and marketing experts who were asked by NAHB about their expectations for future homes agreed that home size would slip into the 2,300- to 2,500-square-foot range by 2015.

NAHB says that two-story homes will continue to dominate as increasing construction costs drive choices. “As housing prices go up, so too does the share of two-story homes," says Ahluwalia, noting that two-story construction is less expensive than one story on a square-foot basis. U.S. Census Bureau data shows that 55 percent of the homes built in 2005 had two or more stories.

Demise of the Living Room?

On the chopping block are formal living rooms. Last year, 40 percent of newly constructed homes didn’t have a living room, and 55 percent of the architects, designers, and builders surveyed expect living rooms to vanish from the average home in the next 10 years. Thirty-one percent say it will evolve into a parlor/retreat/library or a music room.

Most likely to capture more square footage in both average and upscale homes is the family room. In upscale homes, 68 percent of those surveyed also expect kitchens to become even larger.

Master bedroom or master suite options are increasing as well, with 63 percent of upscale homes and 13 percent mid-level homes expected to have two master suites by the next decade. Such a configuration not only accommodates guests, but also offers the option of having a master bedroom on the first floor as well as the second floor to give owners more choice and also accommodate aging owners or relatives. The Renewed American Home, one of several show homes at IBS, featured a second-floor master suite and an additional first-floor suite that was a tad smaller.

High Ceilings Dominate

Smaller homes won’t translate into less volume though, and the high ceilings that have characterized new homes in recent years are here to stay. Average homes in the future are expected to have 9- to 10-foot ceilings on the first floor. In luxury homes, 10- to 12-foot ceilings on the first floor will be standard.

— By Camilla McLaughlin for REALTORŪ Magazine Online

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