New Diet After years of super-sizing, America's appetite for big houses finally appears to be waning, according to the latest Design Trends Survey by the American Institute of Architects. In the most recent poll, conducted in the first quarter of 2007, 26 percent of residential architects reported an overall decrease in home sizes, versus 21 percent reporting increases. Shrinking households, high energy costs, small lots, high land costs, and a growing consumer interest in quality over quantity are likely factors.—J. Sullivan


$42 Million Community development financial institutions serving low-income and low-wealth people throughout the U.S. will be the beneficiaries of approximately $42 million to be awarded over the next five years. The awards are funded by The Wachovia Foundation ($16.75 million) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($25 million), and one of their focuses will be to help provide more affordable housing. The first recipients of the Wachovia Next Awards for Opportunity Finance will be named in Miami in December. One recipient will get $5.5 million, the other $2.75 million.—E. Butterfield

Ennis Layoffs Citing sluggish sales and a downbeat economic forecast, Ennis Homes of Porterville, Calif., has laid off 25 percent of its work-force. The company built around 400 homes in 2006 between Bakersfield and Fresno. The pink slips were issued primarily to workers on construction and operations teams.—S. Zurier


Foreign Friends International home buyers, and retirees in particular, are an increasingly important market in the U.S., according to a new study from the National Association of Realtors on international home buying activity. The “2007 Profile of International Home Buying Activity” noted that international buyers are more likely to purchase a condo and pay cash than U.S. buyers, and nearly half use their homes exclusively for vacation. Mexico topped the list of countries of origin for buyers, followed by Great Britain and Canada. About half the sales to foreign buyers were in three states: Florida, California, and Texas.—P. Curry

Trade-Ins While it could be seen as a sign of desperation, some home builders are trying to sell off excess inventory by offering trade-ins to buyers who can't sell their old homes. “The resale market is slow right now,” says Dan Tartabini, a sales director at KB Home. “We want to make sure people who buy from us, that have a house to sell, get to the finish line.”—S.Z.


Condo Cushions Condo sales have propped up Washington residential real estate this year, surging nearly 23 percent for the first four months and accounting for 54 percent of the market. Nevertheless, the large number of condos flooding the market means prices have begun to drop. The median condo price in D.C. this past April was $350,000—4 percent lower than last year.—N.F. Maynard


Learn more about markets featured in this article: Visalia, CA.