Experts from the NAHB and Better Homes & Gardens Magazine released some interesting research at the International Builder's Show in Las Vegas last week. They found that Americans aren't interested in McMansions or large homes anymore, they're looking for something more practical. They're looking for economic and cozy spaces with neat organization. What's interesting, however, is that the same group that presented this research, the NAHB, is also the group behind IBS and The New American Home. So despite the fact that consumers want smaller homes, the NAHB brings out a New American Home of 8721 square feet — it's a veritable Temple of Opulence. I guess you could file this news in the ironic category.
Be that as it may, buyer's aren't just looking for smaller homes. They want function, so here's a breakdown of some of the things buyers are looking for in their homes:
- "Wii-sized," media-centric family gathering rooms
- More storage to keep clutter under control
- Small homes with built in shelves for food storage
- Energy-efficient heating and cooling systems
- Energy-efficient homes with lower utility bills
- Outdoor spaces, such as a front porch
- A dedicated home office space
Speaking to The Washington Post, David Poole, sales manager at a development with smaller-sized homes, said, "It's an easier buyer to get into [a small house] just because of the circumstances of the economy … people aren't buying big, huge homes with no yard."
To be clear, I think it's wise to consider the current consumer's mood as something more than a trend. Naturally, we're in a tough spot, so everyone is looking to be smart economically. But the thing is, the real estate market has been heading for trouble for quite some time. Builders and developers prioritized size over style and convenience over efficiency. Consumers bought into gargantuan homes by overextending themselves with creative mortgages or high payments that they really could not afford. And now we have a shakeout and bailout. But future developments must be different. They must be economically approachable and practical.