Average House Size Falls in Second Quarter

Male and female looking at a sheet of paper in a building with glass walls.

Typical size of a new single-family house fell in the second quarter, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Not by much, but the typical size of a new single-family house fell in the second quarter. This decline is continuing a downward trend that started about two years ago.

According to the National Association of Home Builder’ analysis of Census Bureau data, the slight 63-square-foot decline in the second quarter resulted largely from “incremental” moves by builders to more entry-level housing.

The average, or mean, floor area in this year’s second quarter dipped to 2,555 square feet, down from 2,618 in the second quarter of 2017. The 63-foot decline is equal to a small room roughly 6 feet-by 10 feet. The falloff in the median size house fell even less, from 2,355 to 2,344 during the same period.

The rise and fall in the size of new construction is “consistent with the historical pattern coming out of recessions,” NAHB Chief economist Robert Dietz said.

Typically, square footage falls prior to and during a recession as home buyers tighten budgets. Then, it rises as high-end buyers, who face fewer credit constraints than others, return to the market in relatively greater proportions.

Dietz said this normal pattern was exacerbated this time around because of malaise among first-time buyers and supply-side constraints in the building market. Now, though, “the recent declines in size indicate that this part of the cycle has ended, and size will trend lower as builders add more entry-level homes into inventory.”

Lew Sichelman is a nationally syndicated housing and real estate columnist. He has covered the real estate beat for more than 50 years.

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