Are American Home Sizes Growing or Shrinking?

Remember that trend toward smaller houses widely predicted and reported, well Lew Sichelman sees the inverse in figures recently reported at the annual convention of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in Orlando.

A couple of weeks ago, we linked to an article by Kaid Benfield reporting on the trend towards smaller homes in the U.S., according to survey and census results and predictions from the National Association of Home Builders. Well, recently Urban Land ran a piece citing census and NAHB data and reached an entirely different conclusion - that house sizes are increasing. So, what gives?

It's not quite clear in reading the two pieces, how they arrived at divergent data. While both quote census data numbers to back up their conclusions, their numbers are different. This may result from one using average home size and the other using median home size. Sichelman isn't clear on which he's using, and does not provide a link or detailed reference for his date. However, Benfield acknowledges the "average" versus "median" divergence and still sees a similar trend line, irrespective of what statistical analysis tool is used.

Another potential cause for the conflicting findings is the of the age of the data referenced. Benfield does not seem to incorporate census data more recently than 2010, while Sichelman's reference point seems to be data from the first half of 2011

Since both authors report their NAHB sources predicting a long term trend towards smaller homes, I assume the information used by Sichelman to reach his conclusion is a momentary blip in an otherwise ongoing trend towards smaller average (and median) home sizes.

But please, read each piece and judge for yourself.

Full Story: Houses Getting Bigger, Not Smaller



House Are Getting Bigger (On Average)

Responding to your post about the size of houses, the information for my report in ULIMagazine Online comes from the Census Bureau, via the National Association of Home Builders at its annual convention earlier this month in Orlando. The data is average square footage for the first six months of 2011. I doubt there is any information that is more up to date than this. Plus, I know of several anecdotal instances in which the price of land has fallen by so much that builders can put up larger houses -- which some are doing -- that can be quite affordable in their particular markets.
Lew Sichelman
Syndicated Housing Columnist

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