Friday, January 05, 2007

McMansions on the Way Out?

The size of the average American house more than doubled between 1950 and 1999, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. From 1982 to 2004, the typical new single-family house grew about 40% from 1,690 square feet to 2,366 square feet.

In the face of these increases, however, the size of the average American household has shrunk from 3.3 to 2.6 people.

This seeming paradox betrays the trend toward ever-larger houses for what it is: a real estate fashion, and an irrational one at that. And like all fashions, it's doomed to reverse eventually.


What's so awful about these big, bad houses?

Here's the usual litany: They use more building materials, wasting natural resources. They take more energy to heat and cool than a small home, consuming more nonrenewable heating oil or natural gas and more electricity (most of which is also generated by fossil fuels, creating more pollution).

Big houses also cost more to buy — a fact that often seems curiously overlooked — so many people can only afford to buy them in less expensive locations, usually far from where they work. This necessitates longer commutes, which squander yet more fossil fuels and absorb much of the free time people were hoping to spend in their big new houses. So much for appealing to conscience.

Yep, and as I have been finding out in the Oklahoma City area, the smaller houses are more popular and are holding their value, while the larger houses are losing their value.

The way of the SUV and McMansions may be falling by the wayside.

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