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Americans' House Size Appetites Growing Again, As Is the Desire to Buy

We Americans?.some things just cannot be changed. Despite our ever-growing waistlines and sedentary lifestyles, “super-size” still rolls effortlessly off the lips when lined up at the fast food trough. Similarly, despite the pummeling that the housing market has endured, we’re seeing signs that we have very short memories- apparently recent (barely) positive economic news has many saying “super-size” me once again when it comes to house size.

Trulia recently worked with Harris Interactive to get Americans' opinion on homeownership, and 27% of Americans say their ideal home size is over 2,600 square feet– up from 17% in 2011. Furthermore, the “super-sized” house category (3,200 square feet and up) saw an even more dramatic increase in interest. While just 6% of those surveyed in 2011 expressed desire for a super-sized home, 11% now say they want a home of this size — that’s almost double a year ago. This trend wasn’t lost on builders; average new home size grew nearly 100 square feet in 2011- from 2,392 square feet to 2,480 square feet.

Despite a homeownership rate that has dropped over the slump, more renters are now thinking about buying a home. Job growth, low interest rates and ever-rising rents have pushed up renter interest in home buying. Currently, 78% of renters have plans to eventually purchase a home, up from 72% in early 2011. More than a quarter of renters (27%) want to buy in the next two years, compared with 22% in 2011.

The key motivation for this change of heart seems to be increasing rents, low interest rates and reports of an economy that might be finally stabilizing. Americans also are optimistic about home prices, 61% expect increases in their local market in the next year. Curiously, 58% believe that local home prices will return to their previous bubble-level peaks within the next 10 years.

Hope springs eternal and in some cases, a short memory can be good to have. Optimism is a fundamental part of success and everyone needs shoot for the moon and feel good. Go ahead, get the one pound slammer with extra cheese and bacon, super-size the fries and grab the dessert?. Just go with a Diet Coke so you don’t over-do it – (but you might as well super-size that, too).

- Hank Miller