When the economy began circling the drain a couple of years back, everything began getting smaller, from the cars we drive to the number of banks we have to choose from. And according to the Census Bureau, even our homes were nailed by the recession shrink ray.
Between 2008 and 2009, the size of a new single-family home shrunk on average by 51 sq. feet (or about the size of my first New York apartment) from 2,473 sq. feet to 2,422.
The cold Northeast saw the most amount of shrinkage, a drop of 200 sq. ft (about the size of my current New York apartment).
According to the chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders, this is deja vu all over again:
We also saw a decline in the size of new homes when the economy lapsed into recession in the early 1980s.
Still, the average size of a new home in 2009 was significantly larger than in 1980, when we were all crammed into around 1,700 square feet.
Another reason Mr. NAHB gives for the dip in new home size is the increased number of real estate purchases by first-time buyers, who are starting small because they lack the capital for purchasing a more stately manor.
Another chief economist, this time from Fannie Mae, explains the smaller new homes thusly:
Consumers are still committed to owning a home, but are showing increased cautiousness… They are rebalancing their attitudes toward housing and homeownership by adopting a more realistic, long-term approach and are less willing to take risks.
U.S. average house size shrank in 2009 [Philadelphia Inquirer]