Giant homes with an extraordinary amount of space were ironically dubbed ‘McMansions’ by the media, but their time as style leaders in housing appears to be over. While by international standards Australian homes are still large, the average floor size of dwellings are falling and is now the lowest it has been for over a decade.
New houses built in 2012-2013 had an average floor area of 241 square metres, which represented a reduction of 1.6 per cent on the previous year. Curiously the floor area of apartments are getting bigger, by almost the same amount, 1.3 per cent.
CommSec claims this illustrates how Australia’s demographics deeply influence our housing choices and therefore the market as a whole. Baby boomers are downsizing, as big multi-bedroom homes no longer fit their lifestyle ambitions and now demand homes which are smaller and therefore easier to maintain, allowing time to indulge in new hobbies during an active retirement. For a significant number of baby boomers, who once celebrated a big family home, the ongoing commitment needed to maintain such a property is something they no longer want.
A detailed study by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute reveals that the majority of people want to ‘age-in-place’, but this doesn’t mean that we expect to stay living in the same house. Most people are less attached to the house itself and more attached to a local area network of friends, services and familiar places. This opens a whole new market for new home builders as knockdown rebuilds gear themselves not toward upsizing, but downsizing.