Even as the U.S. economy struggles to rebound from the worst recession since the Great Depression, Americans are living larger.
Larger, as in larger homes: two-story foyers, twin front staircases, children’s wings, dedicated man caves, coffee bars, four-car garages and bedroom closets large enough for a fifth vehicle.
The percentage of new single-family homes greater than 3,000 square feet has grown by one-third in the last decade, according to data released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau. Slightly more than 1 in 4 new homes built last year were larger than 3,000 square feet, the highest percentage since 2007.
Census Bureau reports that the average size of a U.S. house rose in 2011 to 2,480 square feet, up from 2,392 square feet in 2010. The 2011 figure is 62.6 percent larger than the 1,525-square-foot average size in 1973.
Demand for large, luxury homes began dropping in September 2005, said Christopher Gaffney, a group president for Toll Brothers home builder, right after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. Since then, it’s been an up-and-down cycle. “It was just a matter of when things would turn around, not if,” Gaffney said. “People got tired of putting their lives on hold.”
Danny Jong, a New York commercial and residential real estate investor, needed a place for his mother and the children that he and his wife would like to have.
“I grew up in a big house,” said Jong, 41, who was raised in New Jersey. “Why not go bigger if you can afford it?”
He said he’s not sure what he’ll do with all the space in the Toll Brothers house he bought in Randolph, N.J. A live-in housekeeper will take up some room. He said Toll Brothers’ reputation for quality, low interest rates, price per square foot and proximity to his New York office influenced his family’s decision.