Bigger homes and smaller lots?

The Seattle Times had an interesting article about how the technology changing our life style influence preferences in real estate.

In the past 25 years, the size of homes nationwide has been on the rise, while the size of lots has been shrinking. According to the U.S. Census, the median size of new single-family homes increased almost 29 percent from 1978 to 2003, but median lot size shrank 13 percent. The census does not track this information at the city or county level. Census statistics show that regionally, lots in the West have been the smallest in the country every year since 1992, the first year regional numbers were available.

Local builders and others in the residential-construction industry say declining lot size, in particular, is true for the Puget Sound region. Developers say they’re building homes on 4,500- to 5,500-square-foot lots, but older figures were unavailable for comparison.

“The most significant change we’ve seen is that the lot size is shrinking over time,” says Michael Feuerborn, owner and president of Auburn-based DreamCraft Homes. “They’re getting pretty much the same house we built 10, 15 years ago, but it’s on a smaller lot.”

Dan French, general manager and co-owner of Kirkland-based Austin Royce Design/Build, agrees.

“In the last five years, I don’t think there’s been so much increase in size [of homes] as there has been shrinkage in land,” French said.

And they give an interesting reason for such thing:

“Years ago, there was no such thing as a media room,” said Paul Glosniak, president of Bellevue-based Bennett Homes, which builds about 300 homes a year. “Now we have relatively inexpensive large-screen TVs and surround-sound systems, and people want spaces to put those in.”

With the influence of the Internet, e-mail, fax machines and high-speed Internet access, more people are telecommuting and want home offices. Glosniak sometimes builds his-and-her offices.

Lifestyle changes have made yard space less important than it once was.

“A smaller lot means ease of maintenance,” Glosniak said. “With everyone being so busy and with two people in a household working in order to afford the home, people are not wanting to do a lot of yard work, so people are accepting smaller lots as a convenience.”

Here is a summary of the US Census numbers that show how median homes have grown nearly 29 percent in the U.S. since 1978, while lots have shrunk 13 percent.

Year: Home sq. ft. / Lot sq. ft.
1978: 1,650 / 9,790
1983: 1,580 / 8,375
1988: 1,800 / 9,225
1993: 1,900 / 9,680
1998: 2,000 / 8,992
2003: 2,125 / 8,666

2 thoughts on “Bigger homes and smaller lots?

  1. Those are interesting statistics. We are seeing that down here in Austin as well. On the plus side smaller lots mean more people can live in an area. So that its more likely there are more amenties like local shops, parks, movie theaters in walking distance. The increased number of commercial spaces are made viable because of the increased density. The only problem is that at least in Texas too much cover can make things hot. Additionally some subdivisions can start to look more like parking lots than real neighborhoods.

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