The size of a typical new single-family home declined slightly for the final quarter of 2013, although the trend for the year was one of increasing size. The trend is likely due to an atypical mix of buyers.
According to fourth quarter 2013 data from the Census the Quarterly Starts and Completions by Purpose and Design survey, the average single-family square footage decreased from 2,701 to 2,656, while the median fell from 2,491 to 2,475.
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 has increased 13% to 2,673 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.