House Hunters Turn to Newer and More Spacious Homes

by 18 Dec 2012

Home shoppers in the United States were understandably shy following the demise of the housing market. Years of declining home values left house hunters in the sidelines and looking for a property price bottom that took a very long time to finally arrive in 2012. As home prices and sales continue to pick up and the outlook remains positive, however, home buyers are getting picky.

According to a consumer survey report conducted by Pulte Homes, a major U.S. home builder, many house hunters are already spoiled by rock-bottom prices and record-low mortgage interest rates. They prefer the smell of freshly dried paint and recently installed flooring, and they also want ample digs to call their own. As Diana Olick of CNBC put it, the McMansion strikes back. 

Generational Preferences

McMansion is a slightly sneering term that emerged a couple of decades prior to the housing bubble of the early 21st century. It referred to mass-produced luxury homes that invaded neighborhoods where they seemed slightly out of place, although entire subdivisions of McMansions later became more common. Jumbo mortgages and easy credit put McMansions within easy reach of borrowers, who sometimes found themselves trapped in a home they could not really afford. 

The McMansion trend is not limited to young families who are expecting lots of children. The Pulte report is surprising not just in the sense that 84 percent of the respondents would prefer to purchase McMansions, but also because they are aged between 18 and 59 years old. This means that even those in the verge of retirement, and whose children have already moved out, are also looking for big homes. Further data from the U.S. Census Bureau also indicates that the size of new homes from 2010 to 2011 went up by 3.7 percent.

Urban Castles

As more American families abandon the suburbs and move closer to metropolitan areas, the urge for larger spaces becomes more pronounced. Urban dwellers miss some of the generous space they enjoyed back in their suburban neighborhoods, and they are contacting architects and contractors for additions, expansions and remodels. The focus is on space-efficiency. 

On one hand, it could be argued that homeowners have not learned from the housing excesses prior to 2008; on the other hand, this new demand for McMansions also stimulates the economy and creates desperately-needed jobs.