It would seem bigger is not always better when it come to buying a home these days.
The two-year trend of big, new houses getting even bigger appears to have peaked--at least for now--as more buyers seeking modest homes enter the market.
The median size of U.S. homes on which builders started construction in the second quarter registered 2,478 square feet, unchanged from the first quarter but still close to the all-time high of 2,491 set in last year's third quarter, according to Commerce Department data released Tuesday.
Entry-level and first-time buyers, who tend to buy smaller homes, have largely remained sidelined due to strict mortgage-qualification standards and tepid wage and job growth. The National Association of Home Builders forecasts that first-time buyers will account for 16% of new-home sales this year, down from 25% to 28% between 2001 and 2007.
12 reasons why you'll actually be happier in a smaller house:
- Easier to maintain. Anyone who has owned a house knows the amount of time, energy, and effort to maintain it. All things being equal, a smaller home requires less of your time, energy, and effort to accomplish that task.
- Less time spent cleaning. And that should be reason enough...
- Less expensive. Smaller homes are less expensive to purchase and less expensive to keep (insurance, taxes, heating, cooling, electricity, etc.).
- Less debt and less risk. Dozens of on-line calculators will help you determine "how much house you can afford." These formulas are based on net income, savings, current debt, and monthly mortgage payments. They are also based on the premise that we should spend "28% of our net income on our monthly mortgage payments." But if we can be more financially stable and happier by only spending 15%... then why would we ever choose to spend 28?
- Mentally Freeing. As is the case with all of our possessions, the more we own, the more they own us. And the more stuff we own, the more mental energy is held hostage by them. The same is absolutely true with our largest, most valuable asset. Buy small and free your mind.
- Less environmental impact. A smaller home requires less resources to build and less resources to maintain. And that benefits all of us.
- More time. Many of the benefits above (less cleaning, less maintaining, mental freedom) result in the freeing up of our schedule to pursue the things in life that really matter - whatever you want that to be.
- Encourages family bonding. A smaller home results in more social interaction among the members of the family. And while this may be the reason that some people purchase bigger homes, I think just the opposite should be true.
- Forces you to remove baggage. Moving into a smaller home forces you to intentionally pare down your belongings.
- Less temptation to accumulate. If you don't have any room in your house for that new treadmill, you'll be less tempted to buy it in the first place (no offense to those of you who own a treadmill... and actually use it).
- Less decorating. While some people love the idea of choosing wall color, carpet color, furniture, window treatments, decorations, and light fixtures for dozens of rooms, I don't.
- Wider market to sell. By its very definition, a smaller, more affordable house is affordable to a larger percentage of the population than a more expensive, less affordable one.
Small is beautiful -- again
As the housing bubble grew, homeowners became fixated on the value of their square footage, tracking its worth as closely as a stock portfolio. That's because we tend to price houses the way we price shrimp -- by the pound rather than, say, the way we price bread -- by the loaf.
Unfortunately, when that enormous bubble popped, some homeowners realized that all that superfluous square footage was for naught -- and in many markets actually depreciated the value of their homes.
The "Not So Big" movement advocates downsizing toward cozier, more enjoyable homes that emphasize quality over quantity. It even dreams up architectural fixes for empty nesters who want to age in place.
"A lot of older people are kind of refugees from their own big house," he says. "They feel too small in their too-big house."
Vassallo says the younger generation is already embracing the paradigm, thanks to ever-shrinking technology. "People who appreciate the magic of an iPod smaller than a stick of gum that holds 1,000 songs don't need to be told that small can be really incredible," he says.
"The scale of our homes should derive from the real needs of our daily lives, not from vanity, insecurity or a need for public display," he says. "Home should be the setting for life, not the measure of it."
Whatever size home fits your needs, our team of experienced local Asheville & WNC Brokers at Town and Mountain Realty would love to help you find it!
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