5 reasons you should buy a small house
The average size of new homes has been shrinking in recent years – here's why.
© Fabrice Lerouge/ Photononstop/Getty Images
If you're shopping for a home, you may have walked through a few McMansions. Because of the shaky real-estate market, many of these opulent homes are being sold at rock-bottom prices. But even though large homes have become more affordable, should you consider buying one? Do you really want to live in a home that's 2,500 square feet or larger?
If you take a quick look back, you'll see that smaller homes historically were the norm for most of us. In 1950, the average home size was 983 square feet. But in 2004, at the height of the building boom, the average home size was 2,340 square feet. That's an enormous difference over the span of just a few decades. (Bing: Is home-size trend shifting?)
The days of the McMansion are slowly fading away. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average size of new homes has been dropping in recent years. If you peruse the "recently sold" listings in your own neighborhood, you might be surprised to see that most sales are of smaller homes.
Should you consider buying a small home yourself? Living in a small home has many benefits.
1. Small homes cost less. Think about what it costs to heat and cool a 3,000-square foot behemoth. Many homebuyers forget about this important cost when they look at bargain-priced mansions. Home-improvement projects such as repainting the exterior, replacing the roof or changing the flooring cost more because of the size of these homes. You will also spend more money to furnish and decorate all of the extra rooms.
Small homes, on the other hand, reduce expenses because of their size. A small home has smaller rooms to heat and cool, less square footage on the outside to paint and a smaller roof. Monthly utility bills cost less and you'll spend less on home maintenance. You also save money on property taxes, since you have less square footage.
2. Small homes save time. It takes a significant amount of time to clean a big house and maintain the yard, unless you hire a cleaning crew and a landscaping company to come in every week.
Living in a small home means you spend less time, week after week, on housecleaning and maintenance. When you live in a small house, you can use the extra time to read, play with your kids, cook healthful dinners or enjoy your hobbies.
3. Smaller homes make it easier to live simply. When you have a smaller home, you have less space to store belongings. Many prospective homebuyers balk at the reduction in space instead of envisioning a simpler life.
Living in a smaller home forces you to make choices about what you keep and what you donate, sell or give away. Members of the Small House Society and the Small House Movement espouse these values, living in affordable and ecologically responsible small homes.
4. Smaller homes mean quality splurges. It costs a small fortune to upgrade countertops or replace cabinets and appliances in a restaurant-sized kitchen. You have to buy so much more that you may have to make sacrifices in terms of quality. Living in a small house means you can splurge on quality upgrades because you have less to buy.
5. Small homes may be easier to sell. Energy costs continue to rise. That means energy-efficient homes, especially small energy-efficient homes, will be in high demand in the future. The empty mansions sitting on the market seem to indicate that the value of oversized homes depreciates over time. When you need to move, your small home will be much easier to sell than a mega-house with six bedrooms.
There's no doubt that small homes are seeing a resurgence as people realize how cozy, comfortable and inexpensive they can be. Smaller homes just feel good, and living in one makes it easier to be close with your family. Plus, the cost savings of smaller homes can really add up over the long term.
I bought my first house. They had a name fro it ??/ I don't remember, It was made late 40's after the war around 900 sq ft made complete with plywood walls
I recently bought a 1675 sq. ft. house. I didn't want a house with to big of a yard, because I work to much for yard work. I wanted the yard just big enough to appeal to young families for resale. I did however want a living room and family room, but did not want the house to be 2,500 sq. ft. just to get it. Our last large house killed us in utilities... I think that this article is right on the money. Smaller is better, if the design and layout is right.
A 6,500 sq.ft lot is okay depending on the foot print of the property. If it is a ranch, you really need the full 10,000 sq.ft.
It is really hard to find a 1600 sq. ft. ranch on a 10,000 sq. ft. lot. If you are lucky enough to find one, it is from the 60's or 70's and the house needs updating, and the usefull life of everything is on the edge of needing replacement.
Builders need to build affordable rand sytle houses, with good sized lots. The Baby Boomers are not looking for split levels, but still want a little yard.
Having personally overseen the construction of over 125 homes, ranging from $125K 1700 s.f starter homes to $1.2 million dollar, 6000 s.f. mansions, I can tell you a few things.
In many respects, older homes are better built. Yes, there are certain aspects that can and should be dealt with, like insulation and windows, but the structural integrity of many older homes is better than what you find today. The home-building industry has not been immune to many aspects of the cheapening and shortcuts and diminishing quality of products that has been prevalent for the last 30 years. I've seen so many corners cut by building companies, and so much unskilled labor from Mexico and Central America. The age of true craftsmen building homes is long gone. In most states, only the electricians, plumbers, and HVAC contractors are required to be licensed and required to have completed any kind of formal training and testing to practice their trade. Framers, roofers, concrete contractors, drywall, tile, etc can all be recent immigrants (most often illegal) from south of the border.
I've seen many clients build huge homes, only to find that they rarely use half of the space. And having $700-$900 electric bills each month is something they didn't count on. I have had clients spend more on decorating their new McMansions than what I paid for my home. I don't begrudge them this, but I can tell you from working with these clients for months at a stretch and having continuing relationships with many of them, there is definitely a "showing off" component to what drives their decisions. They are so busy trying to one-up their neighbors and impress their friends that they've mortgaged themselves to the hilt. Interestingly, about 40% of the folks I built huge houses for over the last 10 years have had to sell at a loss and downsize. Still others are hanging on to their homes by the skin of their teeth.
I could easily build myself a new home, and with my background do it for far less money than what the average person would have to pay. But, I saw this housing bubble scenario long before most other people. It wasn't the first time and won't be the last. Knowing this, I bought a 1500 s.f. 3/2/2 home built in 1967 in a charming establish neighborhood with winding streets, a park, a creek, and thousands of mature oak, pine, and pecan trees. I have a 1/5th acre lot, a main drive and side driveway for boat and trailer storage, and a 3600 s.f back yard with big trees and a koi pond. I have many great neighbors that have lived in their homes for 30+ years. I have an $830 monthly mortgage, and about $350 average monthly utilities for electric, gas, and water combined. I'll take that over a $4000 mortgage any day.
Depends, really. Personally, I'd prefer a smaller home if I were alone. Growing up, we did not have the luxury of space. My parents, my sister, and I all slept in the same room. We had privacy dividers to delegate the space and make it less invasive/communal.
Eventually we had to build an addition. The only thing we did was make two bedrooms for my sister and me. There's still plenty of space in that house if you take out all the crap in it.
I don't get the appeal of mcmansions. Get a house that is as big as you need, but don't necessarily get a house as big as you want or can't afford.
The day that I am happy with an MSN article will be the day they post something truely news worthy.
Buying a smaller house IS the more intelligent thing to do, but not for these dopey @$$ reasons. If you don't think about cleaning/utilities cost, you shouldn't be allowed to buy a house in today's society. Here are my reasons;
1.) It's cheaper to build an addition to make a Den than to buy a house that has a Den classified in it.
2.) The myth of the 1/2 bathroom. You do not need this. Take a closet and transform it into your 1/2 bathroom, it will save you roughly 15,000$. Especially if you're buying a 1 bathroom instead of a 1 + 1 1/2.
3. ) It's cheaper to buy with a mortgage when the market is low, than to buy with cash when the market is stable. At any time during a structured low you can pay it all off at once to avoid the 30 years of paying payment + interest. Instead of possibly paying 200% of the asking price because you waited 3 years.
4.) Smaller houses are easier to sell because the majority of people fall into the demographic that can afford them.
5.) Smaller houses typically have less problems you can miss. When I bought my first property I was 23 and fresh out of law school. I had the great oppurtunity to be given a gift from my father that made me able to buy a house. I went out a purchased a 4,600 sqft. home and I spent 3 days looking it all over. Turns out, I missed a few things, even the inspector had missed a few problems. When I had complained and threatened to bring a case against the inspector he said: "With a home of this size it's acceptable that we miss up to 5 problems. It is an acceptable casualty. Now, I am in the process of purchasing my 83rd home to flip and I can tell you, I'd reccommend buying smaller homes everytime, buying and renovating is ALWAYS cheaper than buying perfection.
The only thing I can tell you all is that you don't have to agree.
This is a very humorous feel good story. I've lived in both small and large homes. Having a small house sucks. Big houses energy cost can be reduced But does take a little effort. They are offering great prices on solar, and there is awesome insulation, windows, and doors available. Don’t let someone talk you into a house that is too small. Give your family plenty of room to grow. If you are a young buyer interest rates and prices are great, right now. if you buy a house now that is too small and need to buy another in seven years that is larger you will wish you had the interest rate and home price that is currently available. I am just saying interest rates and prices will not stay here forever.
Translation, buy something, anything, please, I need 6% of the sale.
First off there's a fixed cost to running the local gvts which are paid by property taxes. If all the big properties go bust then that cost shifts to the smaller properties.
Second, the article fails to say that w/modern building efficiencies it takes less labor today to build the larger homes then it took to build the smaller ones back in the 1950s so smaller homes does not mean we're more efficient it just means we're broke.
Third, if y'all want to raise teens w/one bathroom y'all better be good at holding your pee.
Fourth, giving up my garage would cost me about $400/month in hail damage repairs. My neighbors w/o garages spend ~$5000/yr repairing hail damage to their cars.
Finally, although I agree that utility costs are lower for smaller houses the real problem is the rising unit costs of utilities relative to wages. If we don't win this battle then eventually we'll downsize to 10 sq ft homes and still have $1,000/month utility bills. We need cheap, renewable energy which is being developed by entrepreneurs but unfortunately both the Obama and Bush administrations have put up road blocks against this (google Coskata if you think Obama is somehow immune to the power/corruption of big oil).
In summary, real estate is an indicator of how much wealth we are creating. When I see record setting huge homes being built by the wealthy while us workers are forced into smaller and smaller homes that tells me the wealth in America is concentrating in the hands of the 1%. What does it tell you?