Chart of the Day: American Home Size Trends

Yesterday I discovered a new “micro-unit” apartment building in Saint Paul, and it made me think about home size trends. Here’s a chart from Bloomberg showing percentage sales in different size brackets:

The author of the piece, Patrick Clark, trumpets the fact that home size has stopped growing, with the release of the latest data:

The shift may be a natural extension of how new home construction tracks with economic cycles. At the onset of a recovery, builders target high-end home buyers, who are less likely to be constrained by poor credit, according to a theory advanced by Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders. As the recovery reaches down the income ladder—or perhaps, as luxury markets become saturated—builders get started on smaller homes.

In 2016, that meant more new homes between 1,400 and 2,400 square feet. The share of homes larger than 3,000 square feet ticked down, as did the share of those of less than 1,400 square feet. Home sizes are still well above their prerecession peak, and the three-car garage is still more common than the one-bedroom apartment.

But compare that to these new West Midway 375 sq. ft. units, renting for $1000 a month! It’s safe to say that there are some serious cultural gaps in America between urban, rural, and suburban cities, and between generational expectations, when it comes to how much space each of us feels that we need.

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