Reasons That the Home Building Biz is Still Busted

Witold Rybczynski writes the epitaph for the McMansion. With the housing market in the toilet, Rybczynski says new homebuyers are going to be seeking something smaller, more affordable and possibly not a single-family home.
May 12, 2011, 2pm PDT | Tim Halbur
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Rybczynski cites figures from 2006, just before the slump, when 2 million homes were being built in that year. For 2010, only 400,000 houses were erected. He attributes the crash to buyer skittishness, a sense that the market hasn't bottomed out and a lack of confidence that real estate will hold its value.

Interestingly, Rybczynski sees another, demographic cause for the homebuying slump:

"The other chief cause for weak demand is a slowdown in household formation-the U.S. Census reports that the rate of household formation is currently lower than at any time since 1947, as people put off getting married and starting a family. According to my colleague, real estate economist Peter Linneman, the marginal household size, which has historically hovered around two or three, shot up to more than six in 2009 and 2010, the result of doubling-up and moving in with relatives."

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Published on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 in Slate
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