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McMansions no longer attract buyers, says new study

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A new analysis of housing data suggests that fewer homebuyers are willing to shell out the high cost of a McMansion

McMansions are the homegrown architecture style that taste-makers love to hate. But the sprawling eclectic home style which emerged in the early 2000s is on its way out, according to a recent analysis from Trulia covered by the Chicago Tribune.

Fewer and fewer homebuyers are willing to purchase McMansions—which have an average size between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet—even as sales of smaller and lower-cost abodes have almost returned to pre-crash demand. The amount of money buyers are willing to spend on McMansions as opposed to other homes, has fallen 26 percent over the last four years.

The McMansion style emerged in the mid-1980s when developers decided to capitalize on a wealthier suburban market. But the pop of 2007’s housing bubble left a number of McMansion owners underwater on their mortgages, and the market for this kind of home has yet to recover.

In 2012, homebuyers were willing to pay an average premium of 138 percent above the price of a non-McMansion. Today, that number is just 117 percent nationally, with some markets in Florida seeing an even more stunning decrease. The premium someone’s willing to pay for a McMansion in Fort Lauderdale fell to just 80 percent.

One reason may be due in part to the wave of Baby Boomers now downsizing their abodes for retirement: "Most of our buyers are used to having 3,000-to-5,000-square-foot homes," said Bob Vail, president of Kolter Urban, a Florida developer targeting retiring boomers. "We are trying to cut them in half."

But the rise of the tiny house movement offers another insight into the decline of the excessively sized McMansion style. More and more homebuyers are beginning to agree that bigger isn’t necessarily better.