Skip Navigation

Home Amenities

Americans Still

By ActiveRain Community | September 16, 2011
Actions speak louder than words. Americans say they want smaller homes, but most house hunters can’t stop looking at real estate eye candy

If you were a little girl during the 90s (and possibly the 80s and 70s), then you’ve probably played M-A-S-H. This was a popular, fortune-telling game that kids played to predict their future home size (among other things) – Mansion, Apartment, Shack or House. As anyone who’s ever played this game will tell you, you always want to get the mansion and will probably feel a little sick inside when you get the shack. Well, that sentiment is still alive, even if most people don’t want to say such things out loud…especially in this economy. That’s ’cause it’s a bit of a recessionista faux pas.

Now let’s cut to the chase. In an online survey that we did last year*, we asked people across America to tell us what their ideal home size was. Most people said they wanted to live in a modest, but respectable home that was between 1,400-2,000 square feet. Only 9 percent said they wanted a super-sized home that was more than 3,200 square feet. When we asked this same question again in 2011**, only 6 percent said that they wanted such a big home.

Judging by this overwhelming rejection of McMansions, you can’t help but assume that the era of “bigger is better” is over – check out the chart below to see what we mean.

What Americans Say Is Their Ideal Home Size
2010 2011 Y-O-Y % Change
More than 3,200 sq. ft. 9% 6% -36.6%
2,601 – 3,200 sq ft. 13% 12% -11.3%
2,001 – 2,600 sq ft. 27% 27% 3.7%
1,401 – 2,000 sq ft. 28% 32% 17.3%
800 – 1,400 sq ft. 9% 9% 2.3%
Not sure 14% 14% -4.3%

Even more interesting is when we took a deeper dive at the home sizes that people in different cities liked the most. With not much room in their tiny apartments, New Yorkers must be big dreamers – as the biggest homes in the Big Apple (for sale on Trulia, that is) get half the views. The same can be said for the lovers of “Luxe Living” in Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore, Seattle, San Francisco and Miami.

But are Americans actually giving McMansions the cold shoulder, or is this just a ruse? Based on the house hunting activity on, something definitely looks a little fishy. You see, when we looked to see which home sizes were the most popular, prospective buyers definitely preferred to look at bigger homes a lot more than smaller homes. Whereas only 6% of the people that we surveyed said “3,200+ square feet or bust,” these super-sized pads got a whopping 27% of all the eyeballs looking for homes on Trulia.

Trulia McMansion American Dream Infographic

But one of these things is not like the other….can we say Bean Town (which incidentally is a nickname only used by non-Bostonians such yours truly, and almost never by natives)? In the land of the Red Sox, homebuyers are a bit more practical where homes in Boston that are around 2,000 square feet, give or take about 500 sq ft, get most of the views on Trulia. Maybe it has something to do with the 250,000 college kids that make up a good chuck of the city’s population, most of whom spend more time looking for rentals.

To check out the full infographic, click here.


*Trulia-Harris Interactive Survey, conducted July 22-26, 2010

**Trulia-Harris Interactive Survey, conducted Aug 30-Sept 1, 2011