Local News

Living Large: Home Sizes Increasing

Posted February 15, 2008

— The average size of a single-family home in the U.S. has jumped 150 percent in the past five decades, and some observers blame the desire to super-size the American dream for the current mortgage crisis gripping the nation.

In 1950, the average home size in the U.S. was 983 square feet. By 2006, the average size had moved to more than 2,430 square feet, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

In Wake County, the growth spurt hasn't been as dramatic. The average size of a home in 1950 was 1,418 square feet, and it was up to 2,278 last year, according to the county planning department.

"Three bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room are just not doing it for people anymore," said Shanta Jackson, a real estate agent with Realty Executives Parrish in Knightdale. "Everybody's doing it, and I think it is because people want more space. No one wants to feel claustrophobic."

Jeremy Haynes and Lynn Whitney said they enjoy the spacious master bedroom in their new 3,800-square-foot home in Knightdale. The couple recently added a fun room with a pool table and arcade, and they plan to add another room upstairs for their children.

"I think it's important in the fact that you're not stumbling over each other, especially when you have three kids," Haynes said. "I think 3,000 (square feet), for us, it's a pretty good size. For some, it might be too big, and for others, it might not be big enough."

In a new book, author Daniel McGinn dubs the push for ever-bigger homes "house lust." Some home buyers have "an irrational desire for cathedral ceilings, mud rooms and natural stone counter tops," he said.

"I have seen people in Raleigh with house lust," Jackson said, adding that she believes the condition spawned the nationwide mortgage meltdown. "The whole allure of sub-prime (mortgages) was getting a mortgage for a house and having a lower payment. So, bigger house, smaller payment. sounds like a winner."

Jackson said she thinks "house lust" with withstand the lending crunch.

"People are still lustful, but I think they're being very careful," she said. "What I'm hearing is, 'Hey, this is my price limit. But I want the biggest house for that price.'"


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  • lawpirate is still around Feb 15, 2008

    I would love to see the builders build modest sized homes on decent pieces of property. Unfortunately, your choices are McMansions or 'normal' sized houses on postage stamps. Why can't they build a modest house on a modest - not small - lot and charge a modest price? I'd buy.

  • At Work Feb 15, 2008

    One reason that we have bigger houses these days are simple we have more junk. I look in my 2 year olds room and its full of so much stuff and Im sure in 1950 they had hardly nothing compared to what people have today.

  • clintoflannagan Feb 15, 2008

    I think the government should mandate the size of houses. These people who have big houses are making bad decisions and the government needs to step in and take care of them.

  • PaulRevere Feb 15, 2008


  • whatelseisnew Feb 15, 2008

    Wow a new syndrome - HLS (House Lust Syndrome). So we need a new social program to help cure this syndrome. I think a couple of billion added to the state budget ought to do it. To each their own, I would not want to heat and cool that much space, or pay the additional property taxes.

  • wcnc Feb 15, 2008

    I think it's "funny" (or sad...) that both parents are working full time jobs so they can get the 3,000 sq ft house that they "need" because they have no space for 4-5 people.....And they are gone a minimum of 50 hours per week earning the money to buy the big house.........And then when they FINALLY get a chance to spend family time together, they are all in different rooms (of the many they can choose from...) and NOT spending any family time together.....What a way to "live" your life.....

  • Mom2two Feb 15, 2008

    I think the "I want what I want when I want it" mentality, and the idea of "more/bigger is better" is going to be our country's downfall. Now that China and India want to have what they want when they want it, we are finding that there just isn't enough to go around. Until we learn to be more frugal and self-reliant, we are going to continue in a downward economic spiral. And what does the government do? Gives us money so we can turn around and spend it? The wise man would pay off debt, contribute to his retirement and/or make changes that would result in further savings...exactly what the government does NOT want us to do, because "reigning in" hurts the economy. But our economy is like a pyramid scheme which is fun and lucrative for a while, but eventually you run out of people/money!

  • lornadoone Feb 15, 2008

    wow. We had a 3000 sq. ft. house when I was growing up, but there were 6 kids in my family - total of 8 people plus 1 doggie. Our house had plenty of space.