Biggest is better Down Under

Move over, gluttonous U.S. homeowners. Australians now eclipse Americans in building the largest homes, Reuters has reported.

What, you thought Americans are the only ones who gobble up square footage?

Australian homes have expanded in size an average 10% in the last decade to 2,310 square feet (214.6 square meters), according to a Commonwealth Bank of Australia study. The average size of U.S. homes starting construction in the second quarter this year was 2,091square feet (637 square meters), according to the National Assn. of Home Builders. Not exactly a hut, by the way. In fact, the floor size of U.S. single-family homes ballooned 13% to 2,459 square feet (750 square meters) from 1998 to 2008. Take that, Aussies!

U.S. homes, which expanded like our waistlines by 50% in the last 35 years, started a square-footage diet in the middle of last year. That would be when the economy sank like a stone and foreclosure signs went up everywhere. Boomers, who still set the bar for, well, everything, "don't need five bedrooms in the suburbs anymore," said Stephen Melman, an NAHB economist. "They just want an extra bedroom for the grandkids."

So say good-bye to those de'rigueur McMansions that sprang up in small neighborhoods like Vegas high rises during real estate bloom. At least for now.

As for the Australians, enjoy those big homes while you can, mates. If history is a guide, "smaller is better" may become your next building motto.
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