Homes Get Smaller, More Energy Efficient

    From Realtor Magazine

    What features do buyers want today and in the future? The answer: smaller, more energy efficient homes.

    The average size of a new single-family home in 2010 was 2,377 square feet, down from 2,438 square feet in 2009 and down from the peak of 2,520 square feet in 2007 and 2008, according to U.S. Census Bureau data presented by Rose Quint, assistant vice president of survey research for NAHB at the International Builders’ Show in Orlando Thursday, Jan. 13.

    And the trend will only continue, Quint said, with the 2015 new home size currently projected at 2,150 square feet with fewer bathrooms and smaller garages.

    It’s hard to say whether home sizes will decline to 1970 levels of 1,500 square feet. But Quint says she believes smaller sizes are here to stay based on demographics.

    The U.S. population was 310 million as of April 2010. That’s expected to rise to 322 million in 2015 and continue to climb up to 422 million by 2050. The population is also getting older and more diverse. In 2010, 25 percent were over the age of 55, which is expected to grow to 31 percent by 3050.

    This rising segment of older home owners will not want to care for huge spaces, Quint said. Then you have Generation Y buyers who are very energy conscious. “People are coming to realize, ‘Let’s buy what we need,’” said Quint.

    The Census Bureau data is congruent with NAHB’s findings that builders expect to build smaller homes with more green features in the next five years. Low energy windows, water efficient features, engineered wood beams, joints, or trusses, and energy star ratings are expected to be more revenant.

    Builders also expect an increase in living room size as well as more planning for universal design features with homes more easily adaptable for future improvements, said Quint.

    Jill Waage, executive editor with Better Homes and Gardens, also presented her magazine’s 2011 consumer preferences survey, which was taken the first week of December. According to Waage, the top three improvement priorities for home owners are a laundry room, additional storage, and a home office. “The connection to outdoor living space is also really important,” Waage said.

    Other trends included in the Better Homes and Gardens study: built-ins, media space for flat screen TVs and gaming systems, and areas of the home wired for technology. Buyers also want combined kitchen, family room, and living room open space. Universal design features, she said, will be incorporated in much more subtle ways.

    Erica Christoffer, REALTOR® Magazine

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    2 Responses to “Homes Get Smaller, More Energy Efficient”

    • Beth Hooker

      Written on

      Hi Mark…I’ve read articles lately out of Florida, Ashville, Denver and Albuquerque…Saying buyers will want low-emissive windows, more water efficient and energy star ratings in the home and wider doorways and hallways, stepless showers, and less stairs to climb.
      The American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) latest Home Design Trends Survey, released in August, shows that Americans building homes in today’s economic environment are chiefly concerned with affordability and energy efficiency in their living spaces, incorporating both smaller floor plans and “green” techniques in their design criteria.
      USA Today reports this January…Smaller homes are more energy efficient and less expensive to maintain. Builders also expect new homes will have more green features and new technologies. There is also expected to be a trend toward more flexible living space which means family rooms and great rooms may be growing while living and dining rooms will take up less space.

    • Marilyn Martin

      Written on

      At least 50% of my clients are either baby boomers who wish to downsize or out of town folks who want a second smaller home in Nashville. I’m also in that baby boomer category so I can completely relate to the desire to live a little more simply and be more energy efficient. I’m seeing a wonderful movement of people making more thoughtful decisions that will have a positive impact on future generations. In this fast track age of constant innovations and forward progress it’s comforting to realize that less can actually be more. Great web sites for eco forward ideas and info are and


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