Smaller Homes are a Big Trend in Houston
Houston home builders are responding to the priorities of today’s buyers, and it’s changing the way developers plan new construction. According to a recent article in the Houston Business Journal, smaller homes and smaller lots are the new big thing in home construction. Here are some highlights from the article, along with our own views!
There are several converging trends that make smaller homes more attractive to today’s buyers. For example, downsizing homeowners do not want the maintenance of a large home and lot. First-time buyers are concerned about affordability. Buyers are also looking for convenient locations that offer shorter commutes and walkable distances to amenities.
We also have a generational difference in the needs for square footage. In prior decades, Boomers and Gen-X home buyers needed room for multiple devices for different forms of entertainment. Remember full-size stereos and console television sets? How about bookshelves full of VCR tapes? Cabinets full of records and then CD’s? What about those early home computers with huge CRT monitors? Or bulky cameras and boxes full of family photo albums?
Even children’s toys and games have become largely digitized. Kids are just as happy with an iPad and an app. The overflowing toy box, while not yet a thing of the past, is arguably smaller.
It should be no surprise, then, that Houston home builders have found success with 1,500 square-foot homes on 50-foot lots. According to housing data from Metrostudy, most of the new home starts and closings over the past 12 months have been following those size parameters. Altogether, these smaller homes and lots outsold other new construction homes by about three to one.
The “sweet spot” in new home pricing remains under $300,00, though luxury patio homes command price points well into the $400’s. Builders are finding that while home buyers are willing to give up square footage, they are not as willing to compromise when it comes to quality finishes. This challenges home builders to include granite counter tops, hardwood floors, upscale fixtures and stainless-steel appliances at price points that typically wouldn’t include them.
Eventually, these trends will challenge sellers of existing Houston homes who will find themselves competing with new construction. It also evidences that while square footage is an important consideration in home value, it’s rarely a selling point by itself. Quality construction, energy-efficiency and luxury finishes are in demand by today’s buyers.
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