Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New Jersey Home Builders Face Economic Reality

The average size of a home in the US went down last year, for the 1st time in 27 years.  New home buyers said they want smaller houses, and builders are listening.  Data recently released by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found the average size of a new home that was completed in 2009 fell to 2,480 square feet from 2,520 square feet in 2008. The last time the average completed-home size fell by a statistically significant amount was 1982.

Homeowners surveyed by Better Homes and Gardens magazine said downsizing was becoming a bigger priority: 36% said in November 2009 that they expected their next home to be “somewhat smaller” or “much smaller” than their current home versus 32% who said that in 2008. “Not surprisingly, we see a ‘cents and sensibility’ approach when it comes to buying or improving a home, with practicality and price being the top priorities,” said Eliot Nusbaum, the magazine’s executive editor of home design.

Two other trends in home construction are contributing to the declining square footages: The prominence of first-time buyers in the housing market and the increasing number of households with members 55 and older who are buying homes. Only half of all new homes today are built with 2 stories or more, a percentage that is dropping, reflecting the aging of the baby boomer generation.

New Jersey home builders have responded.  Although actual square footage of homes didn’t fall until 2009, the percent of homes with four or more bedrooms in them has been falling since 2007, NAHB data show. And in 2009, the number of homes with three or more bathrooms fell for the first time since 1992.

Builders plan to focus on lower-priced models and smaller homes.  As reported by RISMedia, they were most likely to include these features as standard in their houses this year:

Walk-in closets in the master bedroom.
Laundry rooms.
Insulated front doors.
Great rooms.
Energy-efficient windows.
Linen closets.
Programmable thermostats.
Energy-efficient appliances and lighting.
Separate shower and tub in master bathrooms.
Nine-foot ceilings on the first floor.

Among the things that builders said they were least likely to add to houses in 2010:

Outdoor kitchens.
Outdoor fireplaces.
Butler’s pantries.
Media rooms.
Desks in kitchens.
Two-story foyers.
Eight foot ceilings on the first floor.
Multiple shower heads in the master bath.
Smaller kitchens.

Buyers want energy-efficiency, energy savings, and homes built green, from the ground up.  I can recommend builders who are committed to building with Energy-Star ratings and making their homes as energy-efficient as possible.  Check out one development in Dogwood Meadows of Hamilton, in Mercer County - there are still 5 lots left.

Contact me to find developments and builders that meet your 2010 needs.  I can help with every phase of getting you into a New Jersey New Home.  Remember, your 1st Time Buyer tax credit, or Repeat Buyer Tax Credit, is good on new home construction in New Jersey - but you need to be under contract by April 30 and built by July 31.  Start looking now, and call or email

Joe Giancarli

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