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Smaller is the new
big in home tastes
If there's any good to come out of the recent economic recession,
it's that it has led consumers to examine their spending habits a
little more closely. This scrutiny, which invariably occurs during
tough economic times, prompted people to read their bills a little
more carefully and is a big factor behind a housing trend which has
consumers eying smaller houses on smaller lots.
Conspicuous consumption is being replaced, it seems, by
conscientious consumerism. Buyers today are more restrained and
deliberate. The urge to purge is replacing the need to accumulate
stuff and with that thinking, consumers are opting for more
moderately sized homes.
Also motivating the trend for smaller homes are a number of factors
which include rising land costs, planning and development policies
that restrict sprawl, a growing number of first-time buyers, a
looming energy crisis, a shaky economy and the resulting lack of
This shift is heavily showing itself in the U.S. where builders say
they will focus on smaller homes this year. According to the
National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the average size of a
new home in 1978 was 1,750 square feet, a figure that had grown to
2,520 square feet by 2008. In 2010, that figure fell to 2,480 square
feet, the first time since 1982.
And builders expect that trend to continue. A recent NAHB study
showed builders expect homes to average 2,152 square feet in 2015, a
drop of 10 percent. While downsizing also took place in the early
eighties, when mortgage rates soared to unmanageable heights, that
was a temporary blip. NAHB expects the trend this time to take hold
as builders adjust to the new mindset of consumers.
The NAHB study also found that 68 percent of builders predict homes
in 2015 will also include more green features such as low-E windows,
engineered wood beams, joists or tresses, water-efficient features
such as dual-flush toilets or low-flow faucets, and an Energy Star
rating for the whole house.
While there are no similar stats in Canada, it's likely that we're
sure to follow the example of our influential American cousins.
Smaller homes automatically mean fewer burdens on the environment.
From land use and energy consumption to water usage and greenhouse
gas emissions, the carbon footprint is generally reduced
proportionate to the size of your home.
Sharing your knowledge about this trend will serve to educate your
clients to make a wise decision on their next purchase. They'll
respect your candor and expertise and refer you to family and
friends. Everybody - including the environment - wins.
Elden Freeman B.A., M.E.S, Broker is the founder and executive
director of the non-profit National Association of Green Agents and
Brokers (NAGAB). He cares passionately about the environment and
practices what he preaches, powering his house with solar panels,
driving an eco friendly Toyota Yaris and biking when possible.
Freeman says he believes that Realtors across Canada can play an
important role in educating their clients on increasing energy
efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (877) 524-9494 ;
If you require support or information, please call 877-524-9494, or email