McMansions are back -- and bigger than ever

The average size of new homes has rebounded beyond precrisis levels, but today's buyers tend to be older and richer.

By Aimee Picchi Aug 27, 2013 1:44PM

Exterior of home with for sale sign.Reports of the death of the McMansion have apparently been greatly exaggerated. 

Oversize suburban homes were subject to a backlash during the recession, when some consumers snubbed them in search of smaller homes that were more energy-efficient and within walkable distances to towns. 

Homebuilders responded by shrinking the footprints of newly constructed houses for at least three years following the real estate crash, according to U.S. Census Data.

But the supersize home is making a comeback as the average reached a record 2,642 square feet in the second quarter, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing data from the Commerce Department. That means new homes have actually surpassed the record 2,561 square feet reached in early 2009. 

Even though new homes are again bulking up, that doesn't mean the same customers are back, however. Today's McMansion buyers tend to be older and wealthier than during the housing bubble.

First-time home buyers have shrunk to only 29% of the market, down from a norm of about 40%, according to a June report from the National Association of Realtors. Because lenders have tightened requirements, that has bumped some would-be buyers out of the market. 

"What's left is people who have means," Brad Hunter, chief economist for housing-research firm Metrostudy, told The Journal. "They are buying homes that they can afford, which tend to be bigger."

Some markets are witnessing heftier McMansions than others. Lancaster, S.C., Jacksonville, N.C., and Naples, Fla., saw the biggest expansion in new home sizes, according to Metrostudy data. 

Builder Lennar (LEN), for example, is working on a new 400-home community in Lancaster that includes homes as large as 4,734 square feet. The smallest will be 2,205 square feet. 

Nevertheless, given banks' still-stringent lending guidelines and rising mortgage rates, builders might be able to go only so big before they hit resistance from buyers.

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 

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Aug 27, 2013 3:58PM

Glad to see a couple of common sense post.

   The liberals that hate anybody that has more than them are the problem with society . Jelously or the arrogance they have thinking that everybody should think like they do.

    I read one post (the other day) some liberal hated some rich guy who purchased a 150' yacht. Saying he did not need that and that "his" money would be better spent by paying more taxes!  HAHAHAHA I really think he thought he would get more "free" benefits if only the rich would give more to the takers.

     I delivered yachts for several years, the upkeep never ends. Electricians, electronics repair and installation, mechanics, maintenance (varnishing , paint, bottom paint, buffing ect.) new equipment and upgrades. these all create jobs!

    Larger yachts need captian ,engineers and porters.  The rich create jobs even with there expensive toys !   So stop complaining and get a job and contribute. Take a chance invest or create something new and then you can be rich and people can bitch about you!

Aug 28, 2013 8:45AM
"..Today's McMansion buyers tend to be older and wealthier than during the housing bubble..."
Wow, could it be that  the banks are no longer lending Burger King employees $500k with an adjustable rate.???

Aug 27, 2013 3:45PM

New home construction is the big piece of the puzzle our economy has been missing to pull the country out of the recession.  Glad to hear people buying these houses are people who can afford them.

Aug 27, 2013 2:25PM

the people buying the mansions, are keeping the skilled workers and union labor workers employed.  without these rich people wanting these "mcmansions to be constructed, there would be a lot more unemployed construction and union workers.


is that what you would rather have aimee?  you would rather have less workers employed as long as the rich dont have their mansion?


you dont care about the working class aimee. 

Aug 28, 2013 10:54AM
Love the posts by people saying nobody needs a house over X sq. ft or that people should pay luxury tax on a house over X sq. ft.  REALLY! You have got to be kidding me. I worked my butt off for 15 years for 2 different small companies.  Like many people, my work made the owners very, very wealthy yet I had nothing to show for it other than a small house that I could afford. Then my industry turned around and my job was in demand.  When I gave them my 2 weeks notice they begged me to stay. I told them to go pack sand because they had a chance to make things right with me and they chose not to. They just piled on more work because they knew I would get it done.  The last 7 years I have made a ton of money because the companies I have worked for valued what I did.  4 years ago I bought my dream house.  Its 2500 sq. ft, on 4 acres with a detached garage/shop. I am 46 yrs. old, single, no kids and pay a bunch of taxes.  Some may ask "Why did you buy such a place. You don't need that much".  My answer to that is "Because I can and I wanted it".  To hear some people say that I should pay a luxury tax because I have a big house or try to tell me that I don't need such a big place is ridiculous. Who the @#$% are you tell me what I should or should not have.  
Aug 27, 2013 6:02PM

Who cares!!  I am educated and underemployed.  I am not buying a house because i can't afford it.  Why does it matter if someone is buying a home.  What we need is consumer spending accross the board or the nation as a whole will be "House Poor".  When their investment in a house goes down because the jobs are paying less and spending is less that investment is crap.  Just look at Wal_Mart if you don't think it has already started.   


Older and wealthier. Could this possibly mean that these people are retired? Who the heck is anyone here to say that people who have worked their butts off their entire lives can't have something nice that they've EARNED!

Problem with some of  these posters is they are young and want houses like this NOW!

Put in the work, pay your dues and get a Mcmansion LATER in life.

I'm 42, and wouldn't even want one of these homes if I could afford it, but I don't begrudge anyone for owning one.

The people who bought this house will pay a lot of taxes, they'll likely pay a landscaping company weekly. That goes to people's families. The construction of these homes paid contractors and subcontractors and employees.

Fl, SC, NC. Are these Red States? Do they have state income taxes? I know Fl doesn't, I live here.

Aug 27, 2013 8:36PM
The rich get richer...the middle class is dead...let's all head for Wal Mart and party with cheap toilet paper hats
Aug 27, 2013 6:00PM

Why would an older person need a larger home in their golden years knowing that the upkeep and taxes will be more than just a retirement home?


Builders have been responding to the newest trend in housing, which is going to be multigenerational housing.  Younger generations won't have the same opportunities to make enough money to buy on their own, so the olders are buying in advance of their kids staying home longer, or even having their kids stay home and even take care of them in their old age.


That's what happens when the opportunities of the younger gen gets squashed.  They don't get married, raise families, and can't afford to live on their own. Someone has to take care of them.

Aug 28, 2013 10:16AM
I'm so glad the housing market, and the economy is coming back...whew...lets hope it's a staying trend and skies stay brighter!
Aug 27, 2013 3:38PM
Rich people are better than ordinary people.  That's why they're rich.  They should have better food, better houses, better cars and better schools and have as much of everything as they want because they went out and got money.  If other people don't like that, they should go out, get money and become rich too.

Glad they can afford it if thats what they want and it is helping the economy...


But my 1700 sq ft wigwam is plenty


I couldnt afford to McHeat and McCool those bigger ones...


Plus I might get lost going to the bathroom in the middle of the night...

Aug 27, 2013 10:47PM
public trough being the tax payers money
Aug 27, 2013 2:25PM
Not only are most McMansions really ugly, but they are usually located so far from the city that you spend half of you life in the car.  No thanks!
Aug 28, 2013 7:07AM

well when people are employed and making decent salaries they are able to afford homes within their spending limits. the challenge isn't those who cant afford them, the challenge is what happens when a family or an individual loses their job and they are on unemployment for more than a few months?


selling your home, your American dream becomes a nightmare because you have already sunk a fair amount of your monies into the biggest investment of your life.


some may ask, well how did you get unemployed... well telling the truth about government agencies doesn't go over so well in the government when you disclose their unfair hiring practices against veterans, the disabled, minorities and women. the truth sets you free alright, right out of a job. now that you are out of a job you are on the brink of losing your home. if you are married, you can no longer pay the bills and now you and your spouse are arguing about things you didn't argue about previously.


there is always more than meets the eye to these stories. the full story is never disclosed, usually only the good part, since people only really like to hear good news unless there is a politically motivated element behind it, then the bad is reported and the politicians circle like sharks in the ocean waiting...

Aug 29, 2013 9:07PM
To each their own I suppose. There is no way I would buy one, they aren't made very well: Ill fitting wood work, fake brick façade and Lilliputian porches. As an added bonus you get to cocoon yourself in a neighborhood where all of your neighbours are white and don't talk to one another.
Aug 28, 2013 9:26AM

Patriots Q-back Tom Brady and wife Giselle just finished their California home! 20 million and 22,000 sq. ft. Not a bad size for 4 people to live in ! The builders and their workers went home happy, well maybe not all the workers, but certainly the union trades people !  Photos are online, it's incredible ! 

Nov 12, 2013 12:29AM
I doubt these people can afford it since these are the same people that will lose their homes in the next recession just like they did in this one.
Aug 27, 2013 10:44PM

How do the rich get rich ??   The majority do so by skimming the publc trough (i.e. politcians and

business execs who sleep with the politicians), or by taking it off the backs of their employees

(i.e. paying employees next to nothing while their "officers" rake in the profits for themselves only).

It's all about greed, and lord knows there are plenty of greedy business and political leaders in

corporate america.  Regardless of the jobs they create in building and maintaining their toys and

homes, it's all comes down to greed and their own selfish quest for more.  They care little to none

about the jobs they create.   My thoughts.

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