“It’s pretty consistent nationally,” said Mikaela Arroyo, director of the New Home Trends Institute at John Burns Real Estate Consulting.
In an April report, JBREC surveyed 290 residential architects, designers and design-oriented builders and learned exactly how much homes are shrinking: A third of detached homes now being planned and built are expected to be under 2,000 square feet, and 70% will be under 2,500 square feet, the company found. Townhomes are expected to be between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet. “While overall home sizes will shrink, townhomes may grow as would-be detached homes become attached to increase density,” the report said.
And although “a lot of the market has historically been really resistant to density,” Arroyo said, even markets where lots and homes are typically bigger are seeing it increase. “Areas like Texas, where density wasn’t very common, we’re now seeing it increasing just because that’s the only way to get prices to an affordable level.”
As newly built homes get smaller, builders are allocating more space for more heavily trafficked areas of the house.
Builders are saying goodbye, for instance, to the formal dining room and welcoming a bigger kitchen island with seating. They’re adding another small bedroom instead of a bigger walk-in closet for the primary bedroom and including more outdoor space by forgoing a loft or a bonus room upstairs.
“We’re seeing a lot of deletion of separate, defined spaces,” Arroyo said.
“Think about the dining room and the living room. In the past, you would have had the downstairs of the house, which includes the kitchen, dining and living rooms. Now it’s just one great room and one kitchen,” she said. “And the kitchen is actually getting larger than it used to be, because we’re taking away the dining room.”
Builders are shrinking homes in part to reduce costs, according to the JBREC report. Designers said that they were redesigning projects to reduce the cost of building by 7% to 10%.