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Trend toward smaller houses likely won't last

Trend toward smaller houses likely won't last

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Dec. 7, 2011 at 10:53 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- As home sales are increasing in Utah, the layouts of homes being built along the Wasatch Front have changed because of the housing downturn.

From the time that record keeping began in 1972, homes in Utah gradually got larger. But that changed in 2009.

Salt Lake Home Builders Association Executive Officer Curt Dowdle said, "People will say to me, ‘Are we building smaller houses because of the economic plight?' Yes, we are, but, that doesn't mean it's a trend that will stay."

Dowdle says as the housing market and the economy improve, homes will get bigger again. In the meantime, home buyers are focusing less on what they want and more on what they can afford. Dowdle says the target price for new homes being built is near $225,000, which is significantly less than five years ago.


We are building smaller houses because of the economic plight, but that doesn't mean it's a trend that will stay.

But new home buyers are being more practical with what they build. If space is limited, certain rooms that come in a traditional home may be tossed out.

"Often times, you'll see people giving up a formal living room or a formal dining room and, in fact, going to larger family rooms, larger kitchens and larger bedrooms," Dowdle said.

He says he used to see this more often with senior home buyers, but now younger people are doing it.

He's noticing several other factors that are changing the look of homes. Fewer couples with children are looking for a first home. This changes the amount of space they need. More single, educated women are in the housing market. Plus, younger couples and single people are trying to live closer to larger cities.

"Cities had figured that density was some kind of a bad thing, when, in fact, the new urban trends [show] that's what the home buyers are seeking, rather than large, traditional single-family lots that you have to drive 30 miles to," Dowdle said.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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