Will McMansions Trend Once Again?

July 23, 2020

In recent years, Americans have favored smaller homes, while interest in supersized suburban homes has waned. But the pandemic may be changing those preferences, and big homes may be “in” once again.

As millions of Americans may be looking at where they live with a new lens, having been more confined to their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are finding that their house feels small.

“The pandemic has been long enough and deep enough that it might bring a change in collective thinking toward bigger homes,” Sonia Hirt, dean of the University of Georgia College of Environment and Design, told realtor.com®. “The suburban home that was so stereotypical and boring suddenly proved itself to have benefits we’ve completely forgotten about.”

City residents may be more willing to trade their cramped apartments and condos for a larger home in the suburbs.

Before the pandemic, the median size of an existing home purchased was 2,060 square feet, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2020 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report. For new homes, the median size sold in the first quarter of 2020 was 2,291 square feet, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Architects say they expect both of those numbers to rise over the next year. It may not be the 5,000-square-foot supersized homes that defined the suburbs in the 1980s and 1990s. Higher home costs may keep square footage lower for some.

“The market is not being driven by people looking for massive homes," Ken Perlman, managing principal at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, told realtor.com®. "It’s being driven by people looking for the right combination of functionality and price.”

Many families, however, are needing more space to accommodate adult relatives who may have moved in because of the pandemic. Also, many college students and those in their 20s are returning home as universities have moved online and entry-level jobs were eliminated.

“We're going to see another bump in multigenerational living,” Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United, a Washington, D.C.-based multigenerational advocacy organization, told realtor.com®. “By combining resources, they can afford a bigger house or a more comfortable lifestyle.”