The size of America’s most popular home of the future will continue to grow. The reason provided by one of the nation’s most respected analysts, sounds like a popular country-western song:

“I like it. I love it. I can afford it, so I’ll buy it.”

That’s the explanation offered by Gopal Ahluwalia, research specialist in the National Association of Home Builder’s economics department, when asked about the growing size of single-family homes, given the dwindling number of individuals living in U.S. homes.

“Three decades ago, homes were smaller and household size was larger,” Ahluwalia said. “Now, homes are 2,400 square feet and the average household size is 2.57 persons. There’s really no answer, other than it’s been an excellent investment.”

Since 1973, the average new home has increased in size by about 50 percent. The typical new home that year had 1,660 square feet and only 12 percent had three or more baths. Today, about one-quarter of all homes have at least three bathrooms.
“It’s a lot like asking why a person would buy a $75,000 luxury automobile when the same results can be accomplished with a $12,000 car.”

Ahluwalia said future homes will reflect two basic influences–an aging population and an increasing number of minority buyers, specifically Asians, Hispanics and African-Americans who will purchase approximately 30 percent of all homes sold.

“Many different groups are used to having three generations living under the same roof,” Ahluwalia said. “We will be seeing more of this trend, and because of it, homes will be larger. Their customs also dictate where a home should be sited, how some of the rooms should flow and the use of different colors. It’s something many of our builders have not had a lot of experience dealing with.”

Karol Nickell, editor-and-chief of Better Homes & Gardens magazine, said the kitchen will remain king among housing rooms with added counter space, upgraded cabinets and appealing, recessed lighting. Upscale kitchens will be included in homes of all price ranges. Common amenities will feature central islands for food preparation and cooking, walk-in pantries, double sinks and table space for family eating. Wine storage racks will be regular features in average homes while built-in wine coolers will be included in most upscale homes.

Here are some other capsule highlights of the 2015 home, according to a new NAHB study:

  • Homes will not shrink in total size. Today’s average homes of 2,400 square feet are expected to be in the 2,300-2,500 square-foot range in 2015.

  • Ceiling heights, which have been rising in the past 10 years, are expected to be 9 to 10 feet on the first floor while upscale homes will have a standard ceiling of at least 10 feet (10- to 12-foot range) on the first floor and a 9-foot standard ceiling on the second floor.

  • Front doors will be single and wider. Standard homes will have at least one light above the door while upscale homes will have lights on each side of the door plus one above it.

  • The living room will disappear and change function in homes of less than 3,000 square feet and will be replaced by a den, parlor, retreat, library or music room. Living rooms will remain in homes larger than 3,000 square feet.

  • Stairs, which often are in the front of the home, will move to the middle or rear of the house.

  • The master bedroom will have two walk-in closets and have areas of specific use (sleep, dress, sit, work).

  • The master bath will have larger shower stalls, a compartmentalized toilet, and linen closet. Mid-to-upscale homes will have a shower and tub and multiple showerheads. Upscale homes will continue to have whirlpool tubs even though they are rarely used.

  • Yards will shrink. Now averaging 9,000 square feet, the American yard is expected to decline to 7,000 or 8,000 square feet in the next few years.

“The big challenge is baby boomers wanting energy-efficient homes along with features like 10-foot ceilings and lots of glass,” Ahluwalia said. “Their desires are in conflict.”

The 50-plus housing market has clearly been discovered and builders and re-modelers are racing to supply the structures and amenities demanded by these discriminating consumers. Industry analysts say that the amenity gap (features seniors say they want that developers are not providing) common to both a recent NAHB survey and an AARP study is the demand for grocery stores and drugstores within a planned community. Other wants/needs that are not being met are sidewalks, better transportation and home-meal service.

“Builders have done a good job in some areas in providing what the 50-plus market wants–including wider roads, grab bars in hallways and bathrooms and a master suite on the main floor,” Ahluwalia said. “But we need to continually take into consideration more services in our planning. It’s not feasible to have drug stores, grocery stores, hospitals in every neighborhood but better public and private transportation would go a long way to solving this.”

Tom Kelly’s new book, “Cashing In on a Second Home in Mexico: How to Buy, Sell and Profit from Property South of the Border,” was written with Mitch Creekmore, senior vice president of Houston-based Stewart International. The book is available in retail stores, on www.Amazon.com and on www.TomKelly.com.

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