Americans Living Larger As New-Home Sizes Defy Economy

by 14 Jul 2012

(Bloomberg) -- Even as the U.S. economy struggles to rebound from the worst recession since the Great Depression, Americans are living larger.

Larger, as in larger homes: two-story foyers, twin front staircases, children’s wings, dedicated man caves, coffee bars, four-car garages, and bedroom closets large enough for a fifth vehicle.

The percentage of new single-family homes greater than 3,000 square feet has grown by one-third in the last decade, according to data released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau. The increase has occurred even while 4.3 million homes have been foreclosed upon since January 2007, a result of the housing-bubble collapse and economic meltdown. Slightly more than 1 in 4 new homes built last year were larger than 3,000 square feet, the highest percentage since 2007.

“It’s about opportunity,” Jack McCabe, chief executive officer of Deerfield Beach, Florida-based McCabe Research and Consulting, said in a telephone interview. “It’s about interest rates. And it’s about short memories.”

On a slight rise above Randolph, New Jersey, Toll Brothers Inc. (TOL) is building a subdivision with 25 homes, each on 2.5-acre lots. Houses in Randolph Ridge start at $800,000, with some going for more than twice that amount. The township, halfway between New York City and the Pennsylvania border, is part of Morris County, where about 50 of the nation’s Fortune 500 companies are headquartered or have facilities.

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