NAHB on Home Size: Smaller, Bigger, Smaller Again
The average new-home size dropped 45 square feet to 2,480 in 2022, says NAHB. It predicts home sizes will expand this year before dropping again in 2024.
LAS VEGAS – Following a brief uptick in new home sizes in 2021, the average size of a new home dropped slightly from 2,525 square feet to 2,480 square feet in 2022, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which is hosting its annual convention in Las Vegas this week.
The percentage of new homes with 3-plus full bathrooms and 3-plus car garages dipped to 33% and 17%, respectively. However, the percentage of homes with 4-plus bedrooms rose slightly to 48%, in part because of the flexibility in use that bedrooms can provide.
NAHB expects home size and amenities to continue growing in 2023 before dropping again in 2024.
“The decrease in new-home size reflects the escalation of home prices in 2022 and builders scaling back to try to meet demand,” says Rose Quint, NAHB assistant vice president of survey research. “The move toward larger homes and more amenities in 2023 will reflect the preferences of those who can afford higher interest rates, and in 2024, size will fall back as affordability improves with lower mortgage rates and more buyers re-enter the market.”
Amenities no longer necessarily translate directly to number of rooms or types of features within the home either – it can also be simply having a space within the home that provides respite.
“Homebuyers are looking more and more to their homes to provide a sense of well-being,” says Donald Ruthroff, AIA, founding principal at Design Story Spaces LLC. “They want their homes to support their day-to-day health – physically, emotionally and mentally.”
Builders and designers have adjusted in response to new buyers’ preference with things like walking paths and other outdoor spaces connected to the home. They’re also incorporating natural materials and other examples of biophilic design. Builders say they saw a big jump in demand for exterior amenities, such as patios, decks and porches, in 2023, along with home office-space, which appeared on the list of buyers’ most-wanted features for the first time this year.
Demand was also on the rise for more flexible and better-equipped spaces to meet buyers’ changing needs. A majority of both first-time and repeat buyers currently prefer an open-kitchen family room. This space, Ruthroff says, can be reconfigured to provide more space for additional rooms or higher-end components.
“We’re learning that if we use less space, we can spend more on details and finishes to make rooms such as bathrooms feel more luxurious,” he says. “And people will pay a little more for solutions, such as cabinetry add-ons that eliminate dead space, that add utility.”
Other home features that resonate with both first-time and repeat home buyers include:
- Laundry rooms
- Exterior lighting
- Ceiling fans
- Walk-in pantries
- Hardwood flooring on the main level
Housing affordability remains a struggle, which home buyers recognize. Nine out of 10 buyers (91%) are willing to compromise to afford a home. The top three areas are:
- A smaller house
- Simpler/more basic interiors
- Fewer exterior amenities
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