Remodeling trends: Smaller homes appeal to buyers

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ October 29, 2011

New homes will become ever-increasingly smaller, with rooms doubling up on functionality, designers and realtors agree. If you're thinking of adding a new room, perhaps you should give some thought to combining living spaces rather than adding square footage - that's if you intend to sell your home in the coming decade.

A survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found that the peak average home size in 2007 at 2,521 square feet has already dropped to 2,400 square feet. Now projections for average single-family home sizes in 2015 are for 2,150 square feet. Expect more "room modifications" than "room additions."

NAHB Director Stephen Melman told Yahoo Real Estate that while the decrease in size is a response to the recession, most reactive moves become lasting trends. The first sacrificial lamb, Melman suggested, will be the traditional living room.

More than half of the home builders participating in the NAHB study said the living room will go into extinction, while 30 percent believe the space will be merged with the kitchen and family room to make a multi-purpose "great room" in the home.

Looking ahead at remodeling and home improvement projects

If predictions hold true, builders said, expect to see more remodeling to create spacious laundry rooms, master suite walk-in closets, porches, eat-in kitchens, and two-car garages. Rooms that have up to now provided space for special uses - mud rooms, hobby rooms, formal dining rooms - will give way to rooms that serve wider functions: a home office that converts to a guest bedroom, for example, or an entertainment space for both company and family.

In addition to a cry for more space-efficient homes, builders say buyers will also favor homes that go green. Expect a return to ceiling fans, which help distribute heating and cooling. Water and energy efficiency will be key, as will low-energy lighting.

Melman adds that buyers are looking for homes that create an efficient lifestyle in addition to energy efficiency. Easy access, multi-functional spaces, less wasted space are priorities moving forward.

Current trends for homes and remodeling

For 2011, according to MSN Real Estate, the thrust has been toward smaller rooms, not necessarily fewer ones. Professional Builder and Custom Builder editor David Barista told MSN that the 10-15 percent shrinkage in home size this year helps bring down prices in a competitive landscape.

Barista predicts we'll see green homes, more front porches, single-floor homes (to cater to an aging populace), downsized kitchens, and walk-in closets. If smaller homes bring larger prices, then it's up to homeowners with existing houses to find ways to make their rooms more comfortable, usable, and less dedicated to single, pre-ordained functions.

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