The average size of a new house rose to 2,720 square feet last year, an increase of about 2% from a year earlier, and higher prices are making it more difficult for first-time buyers to afford a new home.
Citing figures released by the National Association of Homebuilders, The Wall Street Journal said that the industry seems tilted toward high-end buyers these days. The number of starter homes hasn’t gone up significantly because of rising land and construction costs and because of a shortage of mortgages available to the less affluent.
The average price for a new house last year was $351,000, an increase of $100,000 since 2009. Almost half the houses started last year had four bedrooms, and a quarter of them had garage space for three or more vehicles.
The increase in square footage surprised Rose Quint, assistant vice president of survey research at NAHB. She and others had expected that more first-time buyers would be lured back into the market, a trend that would help keep house size down.
“Last year I was expecting, and I wasn’t alone, that the average size of homes would actually fall … because there were new measures that were supposed to bring in a wave of first-time home buyers,” she told the Wall Street Journal. “That didn’t happen.”
First-time buyers represented about one-third of all homebuyers, off slightly from the year before, and at the lowest level in 30 years.
In a news release, NAHB said it expects that younger buyers will make a significant impact on home design in the future, pushing the market toward energy efficiency and smart home technology. But first they have to start buying houses.
Some 15% of adults in the 25-to-34 age bracket lived with a parent last year. That’s about 1.3 million people who aren’t looking for a house to buy quite yet.