The end of the McMansion era

American homes are shrinking, as people downsize their costs and lives.

After years of growth, the Census Bureau says the average size of a new home fell to 2,135 square feet in 2009 after peaking at more than 2,300 earlier in the decade.

As it turns out, people have decided they don't really need that huge bathroom or media room designed for nothing but a large projection screen. Homeowners are now requesting rooms with multiple uses, and home builders are taking note.

"Home buyers are asking for less, cutting back on options and reducing square footage," says Steven Pace of Pace Development Group, which builds both custom and tract houses ranging in price from below $250,000 to more than $2 million, according to

Most owner-occupied homes in the U.S. now have six rooms, with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths being most common. More than 75 percent of homes have dishwashers, up from 65 percent a decade ago. More than half of homes have garbage disposals, up from 46 percent.

And of the more than 76 million owner-occupied homes in 2009, 63 million were traditional detached, single-family residences. Far more homeowners live in the suburbs than cities. The South has the largest number of owner-occupied homes, followed by the Midwest, the West and the Northeast.
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