Say it ain’t so

From the Washington Post:

The McMansion, ultimate symbol of the pre-recession boom, is back

If there’s anything that typifies the boom times before the Great Recession, it is the McMansion. These sprawling houses proliferated around the country in the 2000s, as banks shelled out easy credit to fuel a housing bacchanalia they thought would never die.

McMansions became the ultimate symbol of living beyond one’s means. Unlike your standard mansion, McMansions aren’t just large – they are tackily so. Looming over too-small lots, these cookie-cutter houses are often decked out with ersatz details, like chandeliers and foam-filled columns. While their features mean they can command a decent price, many of these houses are shoddily built.

During the recession, their construction ground to a halt. Today, McMansions are not exactly cool, especially compared with the exposed-brick urban lofts young people today will pay exorbitant prices for. But with the recent recovery of the housing market, they are coming back anyway.

As Americans have started building and flipping houses again, they are once again buying McMansions. Since 2009, construction of these homes has steadily trended upward, data from Zillow, a real estate website, shows. The median home value of McMansions is also rising, at a pace that eclipses the value of the median American home.

Many casual onlookers have forecast the death of the suburbs in recent years, especially as younger renters and buyers turn an eye to city centers. Skylar Olsen, a senior economist at Zillow, says that young people today have far more interest in living in urban environments. “That’s where jobs had been growing fastest over the course of this economic recovery over the past five years,” says Olsen.

Yet younger people who are starting families are still moving to the suburbs for more room, she says. About half of all millennials that purchased a home last year did so in the suburbs, according to Zillow data.

Their decision is also supported by cheap energy costs, which make it affordable to commute. in mid-June, the nationwide average price of regular gasoline was $2.32 a gallon. Like the McMansion and the pickup in the housing market, it’s another source of deja vu. After remaining elevated for years, oil prices are now roughly the same as they were June 2000, when adjusted for inflation.

Kate Wagner, an architecture critic, wishes America would have learned its lesson about McMansions the first time around. She spends her free time tearing apart their architectural anachronisms on her blog, McMansion Hell.

This entry was posted in Economics, Housing Recovery, National Real Estate, New Development. Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to Say it ain’t so

  1. grim says:

    Snicker, sorry I gotta do it.

    From Wayne Patch:

    Wayne Named One Of The Safest Places To Raise A Child In U.S.

    The township was named one of the safest cities in the United States to raise a child.

    Safewise, a company that provides surveys on the safest towns in the country and security systems, released a list this week of the 30 Safest Cities To Raise A Child in the United States. Wayne ranked No. 11.

    The company noted that the Garden State’s family-friendly townships make up a large portion of the communities. The state also has the second highest high school graduation rate in the country.

    Safewise noted Wayne’s close proximity to the “hustle and bustle of Manhattan.”

    “The city has nearly 2,000 acres of parkland, which includes swimming facilities, community gardens, and dozens of playgrounds,” the site said. The township also has the Ice Vault, a “world-famous ice rink where championship skaters and coaches run youth skating programs.”

    Monroe and Middletown townships ranked ahead of Wayne on the list at Nos. 7 and 9, respectively. Other New Jersey towns to make the list are: Toms River at No. 13, Bridgewater at No. 17 and Hillsborough at No. 22. Old Bridge, Manchester, Parsippany-Troy Hills and Jackson received honorable mention.

  2. grim says:

    From CNBC:

    Soaring home prices kill renters’ confidence in buying a home

    Mortgage rates are near record lows, employment is improving and rents are pricey. So why aren’t more renters taking the plunge into homeownership?

    Renters are avoiding buying a home mainly because house prices are soaring. Just 52 percent of renters surveyed in a National Association of Realtors quarterly report said they feel now is a good time to buy — that is down from 62 percent of those surveyed one year ago.

    “Paying more in rent each year and seeing home prices outpace their incomes is discouraging, and it’s unfortunately pushing homeownership further away – especially for those living in expensive metro areas on the East and West Coast,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors.

    Current homeowners, however, have a much higher level of confidence in the market, with 80 percent of respondents saying now is a good time to buy a home — that was unchanged from a year ago. The confidence spread between renters and owners is simple: it is not a great time to buy if you have nothing to sell.

    More owners, 71 percent, think selling is a good idea today, up dramatically from 61 percent a year ago. There is so little supply on the market that homes are selling at the fastest pace on record. Great, if you’re a seller, but it begs the question: Why are so few homeowners listing their homes?

    “They’re either content where they are, holding off until they build more equity, or hesitant seeing as it will be difficult to find an affordable home to buy,” said Yun. “As a result, inventory conditions have worsened and are restricting sales from breaking out, while contributing to price appreciation that remains far above income growth.”

  3. Yo! says:

    House next to me just sold. 10% above what I would’ve guessed. 3 bedroom 1920s colonial in train town. Transaction helps confirm prices in this town have exceeded previous peak.

  4. Yo! says:

    Should add house was not marketed through a broker. Sold word of mouth to retiring couple with a kid in law school.

  5. grim says:

    What town?

  6. D-FENS says:

    10% above what yo would have guessed. what a statistic.

  7. D-FENS says:


    Study: N.J. is the least patriotic state in America (again)

  8. D-FENS says:

    More Winning!

    Another tax climate survey shows dismal results for New Jersey

    Of the 26 tax categories in which all 50 states were ranked, New Jersey finished dead last in the state and local tax as a share of personal income category. It didn’t fare much better when it came to the personal income tax rate, ranking 46th, ahead of Minnesota, Oregon, Maine and California.

    New Jersey also tied for 25th place with Connecticut in the corporate income tax rate category, and tied for 34th with Vermont in the unemployment tax rate category. The newly raised gas tax apparently hampered small businesses in the state, the report said: New Jersey ranked 43rd in the state gas taxes category.

    New Jersey did fare well, however, in the sales, gross receipts and excise taxes category, finishing eighth, behind Oregon, Montana, Delaware, New Hampshire, Alaska, Massachusetts and Virginia.

    The category has an impact on “the economic decisions of individuals, families and businesses. High consumption-based taxes can redirect consumer purchases, and, especially if combined with other levies like income and property taxes, can serve as real disincentives to productive economic activity,” the report states.

  9. D-FENS says:


    While Siekerka applauded Trenton for passing comprehensive tax reform in October that will effectively eliminate the estate tax by 2018, she warned that more needs to be done to keep businesses from leaving.

    “People are attracted to New Jersey because of the location and access to two major metropolitan areas (New York and Philadelphia), and because of our great infrastructure and our highly educated workforce. So people are willing to pay a premium to work here and to gain that access, but we’re at the point of it becoming a super-premium, and, at some point, that becomes unsustainable.”

  10. 3b says:

    Pumps from yesterday. I never said anything about NYC. I said and continue to say NJ. Those ultra high net worth people are not banging down doors to get into Wayne. Silly boy!

  11. 3b says:

    N J s great infrastructure? You mean the crumbling roads bridges and trains?

  12. D-FENS says:

    The truth about NJ is somewhere in between 3b and pumpkin.

  13. grim says:

    Ain’t that always the case?

    Either way, if I was a kid, I’d be wanting to be a plumber when I grow up.

  14. JJ fanboy says:

    Hvac repair and installation is also a good one.

  15. D-FENS says:

    Robots… Robots I tell ya!

  16. Blue Ribbon Teacher says:

    N J s great infrastructure? You mean the crumbling roads bridges and trains?

    I’ve had 3 or 4 bridges out for more than 6 months at a time near me which has affected my commute. I’m pretty sure that back in the 1700s, if a bridge went down, they would repair it faster than we do now here in NJ.

  17. Blue Ribbon Teacher says:

    My friend’s father was a career electrician. He’s now retired and a millionaire.

  18. grim says:

    Why can’t someone make a robot to clean my house, mow my lawn, and do the laundry?


  19. Blue Ribbon Teacher says:


    my wife’s grandfather apparently used to tie a rope to a stake and put it in the center of the yard. He would then clamp the handle of the lawnmower and let it just go on it’s own in a spiral back to the center.

  20. Yo! says:

    Grim, middle class to upper middle class town. Not prestigious like Millburn or Montclair.

  21. Fast Eddie says:

    My friend’s father was a career electrician. He’s now retired and a millionaire.

    I’ve been saying this for years. If I had to do it all over again….

  22. D-FENS says:

    White House Syria policy via Sebastian Gorka…

    Bait not taken…

  23. Bystander says:

    Safewise, a marketing company that solicits payments from towns to be included on a meaningless “safe list”.


    I fixed post #1.

  24. grim says:

    Incorrect – they manufacture clickbait to persuade eyeballs to purchase affiliate products.

  25. LurksMcGee says:

    D-Fens, I agree. The truth is between the two of them (but I’m more Center Pumps than Center 3B)

  26. D-FENS says:

    WTF is going on in Lakewood?

  27. 3b says:

    Lurks you are pumps so I don’t know why you go with this charade.

  28. 3b says:

    Defens I will take that to a point. My position is based on some fact and reality as I have watched the state decline over the last 25 years. Pumps position is based on the fact that he owns a house in Wayne and that proximity to NYC will solve all of nj s problems.

  29. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    It’s hard to find a picture of a young Nancy Pelosi.

  30. LurksMcGee says:

    Awww don’t take offense 3B, you can still be mad when NJ turns around.

    D-Fens, I’ve had a pulse on Lakewood happenings since 2011. This was LONG overdue. I’m happy its finally getting the attention it deserves. IMHO, those public school kids protesting for their teachers to stay was just the right push that was needed.

    Now that the Feds turned on the lights, the roaches are scrambling.

  31. A Home Buyer says:

    Figured I’d drop in and post an anecdotal update about moving out of New Jersey to lend some credence to the Anti-Troll position.

    On the financial end I was able to find gainful employment and remain in my field of expertise, offered only 10% less then my New Jersey salary.

    The main financial hit was the reduction in public employee positions and salaries that directly impacted my spouse. The position accepted isn’t an apples to apples comparison so it’s hard to say if an equal position would have paid similarly, but breaking into a local public job that is hiring “locals” will take some time. This position should get a foot in the door.

    Considering the significant reduction in state tax and sales tax, cheaper housing (although comparable real estate taxes), and lower COL we actually come out ahead even considering the loss of income from my spouse. This result was in contrast to the number crunching I did prior to the move using online averages and statistics. In practicality it appears educated professionals may be able to relocate anywhere (within reason) and still maintain a similar standard of living (again with reason). (Warning, anecdotal).

    Outside of the finances, our quality of life greatly improved. My employment is within 5 miles of my residence which would have been difficult to afford in New Jersey, and impossible on just my income. The job itself is less hostile and people and markedly more personable. The population is less dense and it shows with how people act and behave towards each other.

    We live in one of the larger “cities” for this state so while we don’t have Broadway, there is “culture” out there if you want it. Local plays, theatres, fairs, etc. are pretty frequent especially in the summer months. Not to mention you have actual outdoor destinations like national parks within a short driving distance. I think the problem most transplants have is, in New Jersey, you could stumble down the block drunk and find yourself in some type of event. Outside of New Jersey you need to read flyers and actually talk with people to see what’s going on.

    From a food perspective, we have managed just fine with the local choices available. We were never food snobs who needed quaint and unique places each time we went out, but you can find those if you really want it. Just be prepared to drive as only 1 or 2 cities could be considered “hip” with multiple trendy places. You’ll find the typical chain restaurants in most population centers and yes, you can find New York comparable pizza and bagels if you search around.

    Only other item I wanted to touch on is the odd feeling of doing things and not having to worry about being arrested for it. For instance, fire arms aren’t specifically outlawed so I can *gasp* purchase a firearm if I see a good sale that day without waiting 3 months to get it approved. I can take a bathroom break on the way to a shooting range (assuming I just don’t go to a wooded area with some others and practice outdoors) and not be violating the law. People still get a laugh when I (out of habit) buckle my dog into the back seat of the car. Residual fear from New Jersey I guess summarizes quite a few habits I still haven’t broken yet.

    Anyways, keep fighting the good fight and best of luck to you all. Except the Troll, you I hope stay in New Jersey long enough to see your words come true.

  32. Fast Eddie says:

    Home Buyer,

    Where are you? Come on, you left out that part!

  33. 3b says:

    Lurks/ pumps. Don’t worry I am not offended. Annoyed oh yes because well. I don’t need to list all the reasons. In a word I will use clueless and that’s being kind. So when is this turnaround coming? The decline has been 20 plus years and getting worse. Is there anything on the horizon? Maybe our two candidates for governor right? They will turn this state around! Your boy Murphy right? You owning a house in Wayne ain’t jersey turning around.

  34. LurksMcGee says:

    LOL Seriously, I’m not Pumpkin.

    I think that things turn around as soon as marijuana is legalized. Do your part and get that reefer madness fear out of all the older people you know. Get that money taxed. Then when those NYC millennials with 2 elementary school-aged children start looking across the bridge, it’ll be appealing.

  35. 3b says:

    New Jersey and pot perfect together! Yep that will solve NJs problems. Chicago and Illonois and Puerti Rico should do the same. Like I said clueless.

  36. Walking bye says:

    Recently heard a friend of a friend move to a Boeing plant in sc. this was a young kid with a tech degree in instrumentation. Think blue collar work one would find abundantly in nj decades ago. He had finally had it working for small mom and pop shops in NJ with crap benefits and low wages. Was able to increase his salary significantly and move down to Charleston, which is not a bad place to go. Now I know many on here will say good riddance we don’t need blue collar jobs in nj, ok but the ripple effect willl be there for alll the white collar jobs that come along in suppporting middle class workers in a community.

    I,d like to hear from 30 year how the 1m plus market is holding up in nj as evidence in the strain or no strain on upper class in nj. A strong market would indicate a consumer confidence that future wages would continue to grow in nj area and that there is job security. I’m just not seeing it myself hence the stuck in 2004 re prices for the $1 m plus market

  37. grim says:

    White trash grifters getting rounded up…

    What is the probability of clawbacks?

    Sell those houses to pay back the State and Feds.

  38. LurksMcGee says:


    I was thinking the same, but I don’t think those homes were “purchased” by those that are being arrested.


    If it does get legalized, and you are still on this blog, and things turn around within 2 years of its legalization, will you get a ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles and say “if Lurks was clueless, then I’m Stacy Dash””

    I’ll take a screenshot so we’re all in agreement.

  39. 3b says:

    Lurks yeah sure 2 years ok legalized pot sales will turn n J around. You are not just clueless you are a moron. Now we wait for your ummmm friend pumps to come defend you.

  40. No One says:

    Wow, Stacy Dash posts on NJReport? She used to be pretty hot.

  41. A Home Buyer says:

    Live free or die.

  42. grim says:

    They have money in the bank, seize the funds.

  43. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    Here in MA retail weed stores open up next year. I guess the state legislature thinks it will be a hit because they just voted to revise the law with a 28% state sales tax instead of 12%. Right now you are allowed to own, carry, smoke and have something like a half dozen plants at home. The medical mary jane dispensaries had free giveaways about 6 months ago…of seeds.

  44. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    But they are cracking down on being high when driving school busses.

    My last year or so at the school bus company I was the radio bus in Monclair (good gig). Before that I mostly drove in Wayne (this was years before I lived and worked professionally there). During one HS run the last kids left on the bus (Packanack Lake kids) sparked up a spliff in the back of the bus. I quickly admonished them yelling, “There will be no smoking of pot in the back of the school bus! All joints will be smoked in the front of the bus and you will pass to the driver!” They all giggled “Cool!” and came to the front of the bus. I should sue Matt Groening, I’m the original Otto.

  45. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    I even went to some high school graduation parties on Osborne Terrace one year. Those kids were partying a lot harder than we did in HS (but definitely AA level compared to the pros at Rutgers). Kids were all like, “Dude!!! You’re the cool bus driver who parties!” I was 21 or 22, they were 16-18, not a big problem back in the day. Living large on $7K a year with a big-ass ’74 Buick Electra, Limited Edition (4 ash trays and 3 lighters and 11 mpg).

  46. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    BTW, you guys know that (begin song) 1-877-KARS-4-KIDS(end song) is a Lakewood Chassid (Hassidic) front, right?

  47. LurksMcGee says:


    Yup. Lakewood has been the biggest elephant in Monmouth County for quite some time. The interesting thing is that Lakewood could POTENTIALLY have a bustling downtown with some revitalizing. Hopefully they can get the funds back in order to start the process – it’s going to be a long road.

  48. Bystander says:

    “I mostly drove in Wayne (this was years before I lived and worked professionally there”

    Is it possible you drove a young Blumpy around without knowing it? He would have been the kid that other kids threw spit balls at while claiming he will tell his Daddy when he gets out. Nah, not possible…you didn’t say you drove a small yellow school bus.😁

  49. 3b says:

    Grim won’t happen.

  50. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    Bystander – That would have been pumps, but he didn’t live in Wayne as a kid and I never drover the short bus crammed with iron-clad retardos (that’s a term I learned in Clifton, btw). Also, I’m kind of convinced that if Plumps ever cried to his criminal Dad his Dad would tell him the classic rough upbringing response, “Well then, puzzy, you better go to school tomorrow and beat all of those kids worse or I’ll beat you that much worse plus a half when you get home.”

    Is it possible you drove a young Blumpy around without knowing it? He would have been the kid that other kids threw spit balls at while claiming he will tell his Daddy when he gets out.

  51. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    Ironically, I was probably living in Clifton and hanging out at bars on Van Houten when grim and pumps were getting toilet trained for pre-school.

  52. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    I had to check my math. Grim – you’re 40 this year! Holy crap. You have 5 years left before you go into steep decline physically. My FIL told be that 45 is when you fall off a cliff when I was 38. I figured he was full of crap because he was not an active athlete like yours truly. He was absolutely right, unfortunately. Think about one of the most limited commodities in the MLB, left handed pitchers. Because of limited supply and modern sports medicine they’ll still be around often at 40, 41, 42 – then they’re gone. If your sport is something aerobic like cycling or swimming the fall-off is much more gradual, but there’s no way to put it off. The best you can do is train at a very low heart rate like 160 minus your age and then you can still perform every now and then in race and make a decent showing, but the back nine still comes fast and furious starting at 45.

  53. The Great Pumpkin says:

    HomeBuyer, glad that everything is working out for you, just know that you will be comparing everything to jersey until you finally realize you made a mistake. Say it with me….no place like home no place like home. When the shine wears off, there’s no place like home. After living in jersey for so long, it’s hard to go live in these generic areas all striving to be a little like NYC, but there is only one NYC metro area. There can only be one king of the hill and NYC has that on lock.

  54. D-FENS says:

    Huh… kars4kids lists a Lakewood address.

  55. Steamturd, Part Time Orientalist and Full Time Mysoginist says:

    I knew about the Kars4Kids front. You are funding Jewish schools with your donation. If you remember the original song, it sounded like a Cantor was singing it, because it WAS a Cantor singing it.

    As for the aging athletically at 45. It’s pretty true. I still play hockey and I’ve gone from a two points a game pace to about a point every other game pace. I will turn 47 this year.

  56. Steamturd, Part Time Orientalist and Full Time Mysoginist says:

    For those who don’t know Lakewood and Hasidic Jews, they have made an art form out of scamming money from the government. Much of it is legal, though morally questionable. In the case of these raids, these people set up multiple fake businesses to hide income and then lie about the income to obtain federal assistance.

  57. The Great Pumpkin says:

    Damn, you guys are scaring me with this talk of the body breaking down. Someone needs to find the cure to aging, not looking forward to it at all.

  58. 3b says:

    Pumps most of NJ looks pre generic. NYC is NYC. New Jersey never was and never will be. In addition to being close to NYC it used to be able to stand on its own. That’s no longer true. I know you and your mum friend lurks say recovery is around the corner. Legalized pot will be the state’s salvation. Oh and Wayne ain’t NYC.

  59. The Great Pumpkin says:

    HomeBuyer, and I’m seriously happy for you. Just my job to bust your chops. Jersey is not for everyone.

  60. The Great Pumpkin says:

    3b, at one point they were writing off NYC. It’s cycles. Location is what always matters in these cycles because if the location is awful, there is no coming back. Just understand it will be a constant cycle of good and bad times played out over decades.

    Btw, you are a history buff. How many times have they written off jeresey before? What happened when the huge manufacturing left this state? They said it’s over, but nj keeps coming back. Now the question is why?

  61. 3b says:

    Yes and NYC has been back for over 20 year now. Who wrote off NJ when manufacturing died? We had pharmaceutical died. Telecom died. What’s coming back? When? Or yeah legalized pot that will be jerseys salvation.

  62. D-FENS says:

    Craft Distilleries

  63. JJ fanboy says:


  64. The Original NJ ExPat says:


  65. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    In my early 40’s I played in an over 40 wood bat baseball league. Baseball, not softball. The problem is there is only one game a week so every team has one pitcher who is about 40 years and 1 month old who can still throw an 89 mph fastball. Those were the most boring games I’ve ever played in my life. Super low scoring and most runs scored/set up by errors and stolen bases. When I was in my mid 40’s we moved the team to a new league where you had to be over 45 to play and over 48 to pitch. Instant Nirvana. Now you are looking at mid 80’s fastballs at best and suddenly the games were like real baseball, just with slower guys running the bases. What I always found amazing is the perfect proportions of the sport. A hard hit ball to third isn’t quite that hard anymore and the third baseman doesn’t have quite that much arm anymore; this is all offset by the slower acceleration of the batter out of the box and his speed down the first base line such that he is still thrown out by only half a step. Perfect symmetry.

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