An expected impact of the virus crisis is a need for more space, as people use their homes for more purposes. And while this measure has not increased significantly yet, new home size did level off in 2020 after years of decline.
According to fourth quarter 2020 data from the Census Quarterly Starts and Completions by Purpose and Design and NAHB analysis, median single-family square floor area was flat at 2,274 square feet. Average (mean) square footage for new single-family homes changed little, inching down to 2,475.
On a less volatile one-year moving average, additional evidence of a leveling off of new single-family home size can be seen on the graph above. Since Great Recession lows (and on a one-year moving average basis), the average size of new single-family homes is now only 4.5% higher at 2,477 square feet, while the median size is about 8% higher at 2,273 square feet.
Home size rose from 2009 to 2015 as entry-level new construction was constrained, but home size has declined since 2016 as more starter homes were developed. Going forward we expect home size to increase once again, given a shift in consumer preferences for more space due to the increased use and roles of homes (for work, for study) in the post-Covid-19 environment.