Homebuilders Scale Down as Homebuyers Think Smaller

The recession has taken a bite out of the McMansion, and experts don't expect homeowners will be supersizing their homes again anytime soon.

The U.S. Census Bureau released new figures, based on homes completed in 2009, which show that the average square footage of a new, single-family home completed in 2009 was 2,438; that is down from the peak of 2,521 square feet in 2007.

While the decision by many purchasers of new homes to build smaller mirrors trends from previous recessions, many say the difference this time is that they don't expect to see homes gaining in size in the foreseeable future.

"Buyers are remaining cautious," said Stephen Melman, director of economic services at the National Association of Home Builders. "If there's any way to save money, they will. Smaller homes equal smaller costs, including energy bills. The job market is still shaky, we don't know what will happen with energy prices. You want to protect yourself a bit, and all these factors are going to come into play when you think about how much house you need."

Who needs two stories, for example, when you can make do with one?