U.S. homebuilders plan 'right-sized' new homes in response to consumers' post-recession thriftiness

LOS ANGELES , March 26, 2012 () –

The increased thriftiness of U.S. home buyers following the recession has led to homebuilders offering smaller houses, in many cases through eliminating formal living rooms and combining dining rooms and studies, according to industry leaders, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported March 25.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has estimated new homes will average 2,150 sq. ft. by 2015, which is 10% smaller than the average single-family home built in 2010.

Builder M/I Homes Cincinnati is among those that have reworked floor plans to make such changes and allow family rooms and kitchens to share more space, eliminating 300 to 700 sq. ft. M/I homes is slashing floor space in some new homes by one-third, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

In an NAHB survey of 3,000 builders, more than 60% said they expect to reduce the size of homes they build in the future; 52% said living rooms will be combined with other spaces by 2015; and 30% said the living room will vanish altogether.

NAHB says entryways and dining rooms will shrink but it expects consumers to continue to demand big kitchens, two stories, two-car garages and master bedrooms with walk-in closets.

Buyers want smaller homes that cost less to start with and also for those homes with green technology to cut ongoing costs and improve livability, according to 70% of builders surveyed, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

M/I Homes Cincinnati's division president, Greg Williams, called the shift “right-sizing” the home. The company is building about 10 houses with “right-sized” floor plans at its Shaylor Ridge community in Withamsville, Ohio. Houses range from 1,900 sq. ft. to more than 3,400 sq. ft., priced up to US$350,000.

Despite the right-sizing, kitchens remain spacious and bedrooms have been given a few extra sq. ft., said Williams.

The primary source of this article is The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, March 25, 2012.

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