loading...

McMansion, R.I.P.

by Will Smith

McMansion, R.I.P.

As the economy recedes, energy prices fluctuate, and consumer products become ever greener, it seems that the era of the McMansion may be over. The U.S. Census Bureau has released statistics confirming what many had already predicted: Americans are buying smaller homes. Both the average and median size of homes on which construction started in the third quarter of last year declined.

The average size dropped over seven percent from 2,629 square feet to 2,438, while the median size dropped almost nine percent from 2,291 square feet to 2,090. “This is the first time we have seen such a significant decline,” Gopal Ahluwalia, vice president for research at the National Association of Homebuilders, told The Washington Post.

The trend isn’t surprising. Bigger houses are more expensive, and those consumers that are in the market for new homes these days are likely being conservative with what they spend. Furthermore, big houses cost more to maintain over the long term. Lastly, the McMansion has become a symbol of the overreaching, credit-fueled excess of the housing bubble. In these dire economic times, even those who can legitimately afford a big house may opt for something less opulent. Much as the gas-guzzling SUV fell out of favor with consumers as it disagreed with their wallets and their increasing environmental consciousness, the McMansion has lost favor for both economic and philosophical reasons.

The question is, what will happen to the thousands of McMansions that were built over the last decade but which are now foreclosed upon, unsold, or otherwise uninhabited? One provocative theory from The Atlantic speculates that the McMansion neighborhoods of yesterday could devolve into the slums of tomorrow.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/mcmansion_rip/486

4 Comments

  1. ET said at 4:43 pm on Wednesday January 28, 2009:

    I am sure the McMansions will do OK. Of course we have a glut of the stupid things so building new ones is definitely not a good business decision.

    And can I say the house in the picture for this post is incredibly ugly.

  1. Helena Handbasket said at 5:26 pm on Friday January 30, 2009:

    McMansions were the brain child of the housing industry, ever competing to sell fancier houses for what seemed like not that much money.  But then housing got out of control, prices went thru the roof and for no reason but that the industry could continue to find people uneducated enough to swallow the hype.  These houses are all show and no substance.  Take away the crown moulding, granite, and other curly-Q’s and frills and you have a typical shoddy tract house with the usual construction shortcuts and yes, even code violations.  Add to that the fraudulently inflated appraisals, and often predatory or fraudulent lending to get people into $500,000, a million, or more mortgages they could not possibly repay, and you have an economic disaster.  At best, financial disaster for the “owners.”  I bet most of these were purchased using the builder’s lender, title company, sales agent, etc too.

    I agree they’ll be the slums of tomorrow, if they last long enough.  Another possibility, if any are built well enough to last a few decades, is they’ll be turned into apartments or duplexes at least, much as large Victorian houses were.  A house that size is simply too expensive and impractical for one family to maintain and pay for.  They were duped by the housing industry’s puffing, and now all of us taxpayers are being told we have to pay for the housing industry bailout.  Makes you wonder if those “nuts” who hide out in the Idaho wilderness and refuse to pay taxes might be the smart ones.

  1. Andrew Stegmaier said at 9:41 pm on Friday January 30, 2009:

    Hooray! People are getting poorer! Let’s celebrate!

  1. Free Joomla Templates said at 2:29 pm on Tuesday February 3, 2009:

    “the McMansion neighborhoods of yesterday could devolve into the slums of tomorrow.”

    That seems particularly unlikely.  They are still going to sell because they represent someone’s dream home.  Plus even if those travesties sell for 1M each instead of the 2M or 3M that is more common you will have buyers lined up around the block

Comments are closed.

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Ballston
Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Clarendon
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Rosslyn
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
Shirlington
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
Huntington
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
Parkfairfax
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »

Maryland

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Annapolis
Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bethesda
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
Potomac
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
Wheaton
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Hyattsville
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Bloomingdale
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
Brightwood
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
Burleith
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
Crestwood
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
Georgetown
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
Kalorama
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
Palisades
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Petworth
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
Shaw
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Takoma
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Tenleytown
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

Brookland
New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
Deanwood
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Eckington
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
Langdon
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
NoMa
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Rosedale
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
Trinidad
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Woodridge
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Hillcrest
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »

Upcoming Seminars ▾