Is a Smaller Home for You?

Thursday, October 20, 2011   /   by Justin Hoffmann

Is a Smaller Home for You?

Studies over the past few years have shown a solid trend regarding home sizes. Buyers today want smaller homes with smaller price tags. During the boom era in the mid-2000's, homeownership was about McMansions and spacious sprawls. The recent recession and continued ailing recovery have made many families rethink their budgets and lifestyles. A 9.1 percent unemployment rate hasn't "helped."

So, this question is posed. How much space does your family really need? This isn't a simple cut and dry question. Every family has different needs and dynamics.

Let's put things into perspective, though. Having a large, show-stopper home doesn't equate with family happiness. Many families in centuries past lived happily in one room cabins and small-scale homes.

There are social benefits to sharing tighter quarters. Some families feel that smaller homes forces more together time, which means more time for bonding and strengthening relationships.

Smaller homes mean reduced costs across the board. Let's examine these for a moment. Property taxes are based on the value of your land and home. While more prestigious neighborhoods and homes within city limits typically pay higher taxes, remember that a smaller home in that same prestigious neighborhood will pay a smaller dollar amount in taxes each year. Maintenance costs are also lower. It costs much less to replace a roof on a 1,000 square foot house than it does on a 6,000 square foot one!

The same goes for home insurance and, let's not forget, the actual purchase price of the home. Reduced size means reduced costs.

Perhaps the most important item is reduced energy costs. Smaller homes take less energy (and money) to heat and cool. Plus, there are fewer rooms and that means fewer lights to be left on!

Today's standard home, according to recent statistics from the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction, is 2,150 square feet. This is down considerably from the boom era seen just 5 or 6 short years ago.

These standard houses have 2.5 baths and 3 bedrooms. Can your children share a bedroom? You bet. It can teach responsibility, sharing, and how to get along with others. These are all great lessons to learn as a child.

These standard houses also feature a garage, central air, a fireplace, separate dining room, and three miscellaneous rooms. This doesn't sound like a one room shack! It's simply an adjustment from the McMansions that boasted media rooms, exercise rooms, 5+ bedrooms, and a bathroom for every member of the family.

Just 60 years ago, when many people's grandparents or parents were first entering the housing market, the average home was just 1,000 square feet. Quaint and charming, these houses made warm and loving homes.

If you're thinking of entering the housing market and are feeling trapped by shrinking budgets, just remember that smaller houses can be just as charming, functional, and full of love!

by Carla Hill

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