Photo of a mansion.
McMansions are seeing the end of that era. CC by Andrew Smith/Geograph

McMansions are no longer in fashion. During the housing bubble homebuyers sought out ever larger floor plans with more luxurious amenities. In the aftermath of the housing crisis, such excess is regarded as foolish. Demand for large, sprawling homes packed with luxury amenities on postage-stamp lots, according new research, has crashed. Smaller floor plans and more practical amenities are becoming the norm. The rejection of the McMansion by those who once embraced them means they’re gone forever, some analysts say.

McMansion era collapses under its own weight

Critics have dismissed McMansions as starter castles, garage mahals or faux chateaus. The large, gaudy residences sprouted up everywhere during the housing bubble. Now that the housing bubble has burst, the decline of McMansions could be permanent. A study on real estate trends by Trulia, mentioned in an article in TIME, discovered that the average square footage of American homes is decreasing. This is the first time that has occurred in 60 years. The average size of a home in America was 983 square feet in 1950. By 2004, the average U.S. home had expanded to 2,349 square feet, as shown in Trulia’s American Dream Survey. Homes of at least 3,000 square feet are considered McMansions. Only 9 percent of the respondents in a different study, the Trulia-Harris Interactive Survey, said they were interested in homes reaching that size. Homes ranging from just 800-2,000 square feet were the goal for 64 percent of home buyers.

Housing market transformed by recession

Smaller homes could be a long-term trend, according to housing market analysts. In a CNBC article about the downsizing trend, Pete Flint of Trulia said smaller new homes signal the beginning of a long-term condition in the housing market . Numbers collected in a 2009 survey of builders are being borne out now. Nine out of 10 builders said they had smaller, cheaper homes on their construction schedule. When interviewed by CNBC, Kermit Baker, the chief economist at the American Institute of Architects, said design professionals are leaving the McMansion concept behind as demand moves to more practical layouts.Public perception is also working against McMansions. Paul Bishop, vice president of research for the National Association of Realtors told CNBC that in the new austere environment brought about by the recession, large, ostentatious homes are becoming the laughingstock of neighborhoods.

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