Size of Typical New Single-Family Home Rises at the Start of 2014

The average size of newly built single-family homes increased during the first quarter of 2014, with much of the recent trend in increasing size likely due to an atypical mix of buyers.

According to first quarter 2014 data from the Census Quarterly Starts and Completions by Purpose and Design and NAHB analysis, average single-family square floor area increased from 2,656 to 2,736 square feet, while the median rose from 2,465 to 2,483.

SF_avg size_May 14

On a less volatile one-year moving average, the trend of increasing size during the post-recession period is clear. Since cycle lows and on a moving average basis, the average size of new single-family homes has increased 13% to 2,685 square feet, while the median size has increased more than 17% to 2,471 square feet.

As noted in NAHB’s analysis of 2012 Census construction data, the recent rise in single-family home sizes is consistent with the historical pattern coming out of recessions. Home sizes fall into the recession as some homebuyers cut back, and then sizes rise as high-end homebuyers, who face fewer credit constraints, return to the housing market in relatively greater proportions. This pattern has been exacerbated in the last two years due to market weakness among first-time homebuyers.



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4 replies

  1. My take is a little bit skewed… since builders cannot address the entire market range of prices due to land supply constraints, they focus on the products with the best return, higher margin, higher end homes. Additionally as permits and fees rise ($86K for a 2200 sf tract home in El Dorado County CA) builders are further forced into higher end product to absorb those costs. Square footage is the consumer’s most recognized “value” that a builder delivers, so homes get large to absorb those costs.

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