In the past two weeks on BUILDER's builderonline.com website, the story that has done the best is about houses like this one above, "less than 1,800 sq. ft."
The best-performing story all of last year, apart from the BUILDER 100 special report, was one one that focuses on floor plans that come in at under 2,500 sq. ft.
The parts and pieces of our deep-dive focus on "tiny" homes we did for our about-to-appear October issue of BUILDER is already an out-performer. Less square footage is casting its spell as one of the moment's most compelling ideas in housing, whether it's for-sale space or for-rent.
Economically, small scales.
Aesthetically, small works.
From a sustainability standpoint, small tends to use up less of what's finite and precious.
And, here's why small will get more and more compelling as people opt into homes that fit their households. New Strategist Press editorial director Cheryl Russell writes this stunning sentence:
The number of people who live alone has surpassed the number of married couples without children at home, making lone living the most common household type in the United States.
So, while there are still plenty of households among the 20.5% of us who are still married couples with children under the age of 18 living at home, four out of five households are not.
Why, then, are house sizes, on average, going up? Here's the data from the National Association of Home Builders on home size trends coming into 2015.
We've been saying for months that the plot line of recovery--which has it that wealthier, discretionary, A-Lot, nice-to-have buyers have been the ones at the vanguard of home purchases coming out of the deep downturn. NAHB economist Rob Dietz concurs:
The post-recession increase in single-family home size is consistent with the historical pattern coming out of recessions. Typical home size falls prior to and during a recession as some homebuyers cut back, and then sizes rise as high-end homebuyers, who face fewer credit constraints, return to the housing market in relatively greater proportions. This pattern has been exacerbated in the last two years due to market weakness among first-time homebuyers.
We know one of the reasons our stories on homes with smaller square footage are doing so well relative to the others is that home builders want ideas to help them meet the market. Not only where it's going. But where it already is.
Less may or may not be more; but it's going to prove to be better.