Homes Grew Bigger in 2011?

Homes grew by 88 square feet last year, marking the first year in four years that average new-home size increased instead of decreased, according to Census Bureau data.

Homes last year grew from 2,392 square feet in 2010 to 2,480 square feet in 2011.

“Why was this happening when most people want smaller homes, want to downsize?” Rose Quint, assistant vice president for survey research at the National Association of Home Builders, told MSNBC.com. “This is exactly so counterintuitive to what we know is happening on the ground.”

According to an NAHB analysis, the increase is likely driven by move-up and luxury buyers rather than first-time home buyers, who tend to dominate the market.

According to the Census data, 39 percent of new single-family homes last year had four or more bedrooms, and 28 percent of the new homes had three or more bathrooms. Fifty-four percent of the new homes last year were also two stories or taller.

But home builders say the data needs to be kept in perspective: There were much fewer sales last year — the lowest on record, in fact — so the sample size recorded was much lower. Upscale buyers likely skewed the figures, they note. They note that bigger homes don’t really reflect the trend they’re seeing in the new-home market with the majority of buyers.

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