Four-bedroom homes are quickly becoming the standard, replacing the three-bedroom home that has been part of the suburban landscape for more than 40 years. Why are Americans going bigger even though family size is dropping?
Statistically, families have been diminishing in size in the United States for the past 20 years. Couples are opting to have fewer children, and with nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce, more singles now live alone than ever before. What statistics do not typically count are the boomerang children, elderly parents, roommates, and siblings that choose to live together.
One of the reasons analysts believe the four-bedroom home is becoming the norm is because home buyers today are thinking ahead to the time when their parents will no longer be able to take care of themselves. And with twenty-somethings in college or unable to land jobs that pay well enough for them to be self-sufficient, a spare bedroom is often at the ready for a child to come back to the nest.
Recent Census Bureau data, reported by USA Today, found that today’s average home has an area of 2,307 square feet. That is 50 percent more than the average house in 1973. The newspaper reported that while families—considered by the Census Bureau as people who are related—are smaller, households—defined as people living together regardless of relationship—have increased in size.
The newspaper quoted the findings of industry analysts not only that households often are multigenerational, with parents, children, and grandparents living under the same roof, but also that it is not uncommon for a friend to be living there as well. Siblings move in while they are going through a transition. Some divorced couples with children choose to live apart in the same home and to split child-rearing.
Another trend that has the four-bedroom home on the rise is the use of bedrooms for other uses, such as a fitness area, man cave, office, or a separate hangout room for teens. Most households include a guest room for out-of-town friends and relatives. Add all of those rooms up, and a four-bedroom home does not sound so impractical after all. Industry analysts report that 20 percent of two-person households want a four-bedroom home.
Right now, three-bedroom homes are still prevalent, especially in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, where demand for housing has skyrocketed; this demand exceeds current offerings on the new home market, where you will find most of the four-bedroom homes. However, demand for three-bedroom homes is fading fast, USA Today reported. In 2009, three-bedroom home sales made up 53 percent of total sales; last year, they fell to 46 percent. Availability of even smaller homes for people who want to downsize further is diminishing more rapidly; one- and two-bedroom homes accounted for only 20 percent of the nation’s home sales last year.