New Single-Family Homes Have Gotten Smaller

What we consider a big house changes over time. Someone in 1910, for example, would have a very different idea about how much living space was necessary than we do today. But while the average new home generally gets bigger over time – it grew by about 1,000 square feet between 1970 and 2015 – in recent years, it's started to level off. 

In fact, according to a new analysis from the National Association of Home Builders, the average square footage of a new single-family home fell to 2,458 square feet during the second quarter of this year. By comparison, it was at an all-time high of 2,687 square feet five years ago. So what's happening?

Well, it's pretty simple actually. Following the housing crash and financial crisis, high-end home buyers returned to the market first, driving average home size higher. As the economy recovered, however, there was a greater need for smaller, more affordable homes. 

So, home builders have been focused on adding entry-level inventory to the market. That's caused average home size to dip in recent years. But while new homes have been getting smaller over the past few years, the NAHB expects the pandemic to shift buyer preferences and cause homes to start growing larger again in the near future.