Home is where the heart is because it is where we settle, raise a family, make a life, and because—let's be honest—home is where the closets are. Space, whether for the expanding family or collection, is essential. Although Baby Boomers are moving to retirement magnets across the country and often downsize, a recent study from Trulia shows many are sticking around cities. The same study highlights Millennial growth in big metros and the suburbs just outside them. So where can both the active adult and entry-level buyer go in search of a spacious new-home without paying the high prices of cities like New York or Los Angeles? Here, BUILDER ranks the top 5 markets for the metropolitan new-home buyer seeking space (and not sticker shock), and the builders leading in each metro market.
To determine the top five, smaller cities are excluded—only those with a population of 500,000 or more make the cut. From there, new-home closings are capped at a minimum of 3,000 to identify markets not only with new-home demand, but also the supply to meet it. Finally, those remaining cities are ranked by average living square feet, price per square foot, and closing price from Metrostudy data for the past year (2Q13-1Q14). The highest ranked cities overall make our top 5.
Below are market profiles of each best big city for buying a big home, including the average costs and size, market closings, the top 5 builders in each market, and a peek at top developments from Metrostudy Builder Insight.
Music City comes in fifth with an average price per square foot of $252 and spacious homes that average more than 2,500 living square feet. The city has 20 active and future subdivisions within an easy commute to downtown, more than half of which are single-family developments. Local Tennessee builders outshine the public names in Nashville, with Ole South Homes at number one with 348 of 4,381 total new-home closings in the last four quarters. In 2013 and in 2014 so far, more than 50 percent of new-homes sold were to Millennial and Gen X buyers between the ages of 25 and 44, highlighting market affordability.
Las Vegas ranks fourth for best cities for big homes, with an average cost per square foot of $237. Although Sin City's average lot size is smallest of the top five, the average home is still more than 2,000 living square feet, and many developments have pools. Public builders dominate the top five, accounting for nearly half of the market share by closings in the last year, but Trump Tower Las Vegas had the most annual closings for a subdivision with 95 in the last year. Although prices in Trump's skyscraper condo reach over $3 million, they start at just $225,000. A tower close to the Strip isn’t appealing to all buyers, but more than 100 active and future subdivisions are within just a few miles of it, offering big single-family spaces near vibrant city nightlife (without the typical big city price tag).
Already a magnet for the active adult buyer, Jacksonville boasts an average $233 per square foot, and more than 16,000 square feet of land a short drive from the beach. Jacksonville is another market with a few dozen new subdivisions along the way offering spacious single-family homes in the City.
KB Home’s Victoria Preserve leads single-family subdivisions in annual closings at 66 in the last year, and an affordable price range from $116,000 to $157,000. However, DR Horton leads the market overall, with 20 percent of the market share by closings in the last year.
As Metrostudy reports, Texas cities are top markets nationally despite rising prices. In Dallas, however, homebuyers can still find homes approaching 3,000 square feet for an average cost of $255 per square foot.
Of the top five, Dallas-Fort Worth has the highest average number of bedrooms per home at 3.9. This makes the market a top choice for the new-home buyer seeking space not only for stuff, but for a growing family as well. Although condos and townhouse developments saturate downtown Dallas, close to 400 active and future subdivisions populate the region just outside the City's center,with several forthcoming single-family subdivisions just north of the Arts District. The top five builders made up more than 30 percent of the market’s 18,033 closings in the last four quarters, with DR Horton once again at the front with more than double the number of closings than any other leading builder.
With the lowest average cost per square foot at $203, and the largest average lot size at 18,453 square feet, it’s no surprise that Oklahoma City ranked #1 as the best big city for the homebuyer seeking space.
Local builders lead in the market, with Oklahoma City’s own Home Creations making up more than 10 percent of the market share. The City’s new-home market is experiencing recent growth, with a climb of approximately 500 additional closings year-over-year from 2011 through 2013 (and more than 1,400 reported so far in 2014). According to Metrostudy data, 13 percent of new-homes were purchased by entry-level buyers in 2013, showcasing the affordability of the City. Oklahoma is host to a diverse range of museums and city attractions, has the most moderate climate of the top five markets, and of course, the most bang for your buck. Oklahoma City is the top choice for a homebuyer seeking big space without sacrificing the lifestyle that big cities have to offer.