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BIGGER AND SMARTER Homes increasing in size; buyers want more interchangeable rooms and less wasted space.

Nationwide, sizes of new houses have begun to increase as the economy slowly improves.

Nationwide, sizes of new houses have begun to increase as the economy slowly improves.

But builders across the U.S. and Greater Lehigh Valley are not seeing a strong demand for the 3,000-plus-square-foot “McMansions” that cropped up in the mid-2000s.

Instead, builders are seeing a stronger demand for houses with more usable square footage. Over the past two years, builders across the nation are creating homes with larger footprints, more interchangeable rooms and less wasted space.

“We’re seeing a trend in the extras of the enhancements as opposed to the base or square footage of the house changing,” said Christian Malesic of the Homebuilders Association of Berks County.

He said houses are trending larger by usable square footage. The average homebuyer is not going to buy a new smaller home unless it’s a townhouse, added the executive officer of the West Lawn-based organization that connects homeowners to members of the residential construction industry.

In Berks County, homebuilders are still building the same square footage as they did five or more years ago, Malesic said.

Nationally, the reason new homes are getting larger is because only higher income households can qualify for a mortgage, said Stephen Melman, director of economic services for Economics and Housing Policy of the National Association of Home Builders, an organization based in Washington, D.C. First-time buyers have been absent from the market because of tough lending standards, he said.

“Homes have actually gotten larger over the last couple of years, primarily because the market has not included the first-time homebuyer,” Melman said.

The new home market for larger multigenerational households is growing, but small, Melman said. The trend is more prevalent among families with cultural traditions of housing more than one generation under one roof.

The trend also is driven by aging Baby Boomers who want high quality design.

Brian Pedersen
Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108.

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