Experts: Home sizes could soon be back on the rise, due in part to COVID | Real Estate

[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

After a half-decade in which average sizes of new single-family houses declined, the bottom may have been reached, according to new data.

The average single-family home constructed last year contained just under 2,500 square feet of living space, down from a peak of about 2,700 in 2015 but relatively unchanged from 2019, according to figures reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

And the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) anticipates homes will start getting bigger once again.

“We do expect it’s going to increase – COVID may have led a segment or segments of home-buyers to want larger homes,” said Rose Quint, an NAHB researcher, during a Feb. 10 press conference as part of the organization’s International Builders Show, held online this year due to pandemic conditions.

“Home is seen as a safe place,” said Donald Ruthroff, an architect and principal of Dahlin Group Architecture, who also participated in the press conference.

But, Ruthroff said, homes don’t necessarily have to get larger to pack a bigger livability punch.

Space, he said, is being “used incredibly efficiently,” with more bedrooms and bathrooms packed into the same footprint, and specialty spaces – from vestibules to pantries to laundry rooms – all part of the mix.

And, he said, “the home office is king” these days, although in keeping with the do-more-with-what-you-have mantra, it usually is a “small, hard-functioning space” with plenty of light for online gatherings.

A quarter of respondents to an NAHB survey conducted in the middle of the pandemic said health conditions do have an impact on their home-design preferences.

That percentage, however, spiked among those working from home or with children being educated at home.

“The home because the first line of defense to most Americans,” and they want to have the amenities, said Quint, pointing to the survey of 3,200 people.

The survey also revealed 60 percent of Americans would prefer a new home rather than an existing one, the largest share since 2007, in part due to a lack of availability of existing homes as well as being able to construct a home in a more suburban or rural location.