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Downsizing trend hits home

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Builders responded to buyer preferences by constructing smaller single-family homes in 2009, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) announced this week. The average size of a completed home dropped by almost 100 square feet from its 2,521 square foot peak of 2007, according to data the association gleaned from the U.S. Census Bureau. Home size had been rising for nearly three decades before 2007, the association said, and in 2008 home size stayed "essentially flat" before dropping last year. In a statement, David Crowe, the association's chief economist, said the size of new homes also fell in the recession of the early 1980s. "The decline of the early 1980s turned out to be temporary, but this time the decline is related to phenomena such as an increased share of first-time homebuyers, a desire to keep energy costs down, smaller amounts of equity in existing homes to roll into the next home, tighter credit standards and less focus on the investment compon...