The faux château is so about to go

Is the McMansion dead in the koi pond? Not entirely, I’m sure, but the trend is toward smaller and (maybe) less garish:

In its latest report on home-buying trends, real-estate site Trulia declares: “The McMansion Era Is Over.”

Just 9 percent of the people surveyed by Trulia said their ideal home size was over 3,200 square feet. Meanwhile, more than one-third said their ideal size was under 2,000 feet.

“That’s something that would’ve been unbelievable just a few years back,” said Pete Flint, CEO and co-founder of Trulia. “Americans are moving away from McMansions.”

We’re not crowding ourselves into rabbit warrens, exactly, but we definitely seem to be downsizing a bit:

Trulia graph on home sizes by decade

I note with some amusement that my own house, built in 1948, is a hair bigger than the stated average for the 1950s.

Now why is this happening? The less-than-inspiring condition of the economy surely is a contributing factor, and Pete Flint argues that the F-word has put a scare into folks:

“This is absolutely a long-term effect,” he said. “Think of families with small children who’ve been foreclosed upon … When these teenagers are in a position to buy a home, they won’t want to go through these experiences they saw their parents go through.”

Oh, that F-word.

After renting for a decade or so, my son, his wife and their three children are buying a place in an early-1960s neighborhood east of Kansas City, a house that, per Trulia’s graph, was smallish even for that era. Still, better that than something they might not really be able to afford. I don’t think they ever aspired to a McMansion. Certainly I never did.

7 comments

  1. Andrea Harris »

    22 August 2010 · 8:48 pm

    There’s a passage in Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories that describes a wealthy neighborhood in Berlin that sounds just like today’s gated communities of huge homes with tiny yards all jammed together, where no one knows each other and the inhabitants have huge fences, no views, and huddle in paranoia behind burglar alarms and guard dogs. He was writing about pre-War Berlin and it all sounds all too drearily familiar.

  2. Charles Pergiel »

    22 August 2010 · 8:56 pm

    When the family was growning we always wanted a bigger house. For the last few years I find we haven’t needed half of it. We do have need though for a large storage locker, or a Salvation Army truck.

  3. fillyjonk »

    23 August 2010 · 7:08 am

    Frankly, these days, I’d rather have a giant lot and a small house (the house smack in the center of the lot). Bigger sound buffer that way.

    I love my little (1946) house; I did not love it when I had renters next door who exercised their right to party, every night, until 2 or 3 am, with the stereo volume high enough that I could hear it even though both their windows and mine were closed and I was running a fan to try to generate white noise. (At the nearest point, my house and the next one are about 8 feet apart.)

  4. CGHill »

    23 August 2010 · 7:28 am

    I have come out well by this measure: I have the smallest house on the block, but the largest lot. The neighbors around here tend to be on the quiet side, which helps. (And if I’m up past 1 am, I’ve got problems.)

  5. fillyjonk »

    23 August 2010 · 10:19 am

    Oh, I wasn’t up until after they turned their stereo on. But there’s no way I can sleep through music loud enough to shake the pictures on my walls.

  6. sya »

    23 August 2010 · 12:29 pm

    I think I would be content with enough room that I could go be alone and enough sound proofing that I wouldn’t have to hear anyone else. (Of course, by this definition, it would mean that a padded white cell would be sufficient…)

  7. hatless in hattiesburg »

    24 August 2010 · 4:30 pm

    i personally despise the mcmansion *style*, but love their square footage. 3000 sounds about right for me, less if i also had a separate studio & shop space. of course i’d want more if i had a wife or kids… ;)

    all of that would be on a square mile lot somewhere in the abilene-brownwood-san angelo triangle.

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