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Analysis: Atlanta has the second biggest houses in the nation

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Big Peach home prices per square foot are cheap compared to coastal competitors, Lending Tree finds

A $12.5 million “masterpiece” in Buckhead with a not-uncommon six bedrooms.
A $12.5 million “masterpiece” in Buckhead with a not-uncommon six bedrooms.
RE/MAX Metro Atlanta

For decades, Atlanta’s growth has been fueled in part by the promise of owning, say, a four-bedroom new house with a massive deck for the price of a Lower Eastside shoebox.

A new study ranking the country’s 45 largest cities by the size of homes lends credence to the idea that Atlanta housing really does go big, relatively speaking.

According to the analysis by Lending Tree, an online mortgage service, the Big Peach counts the second largest median homes in the country behind Houston. The list’s top 10 is ruled by SunBelt states, especially Texas.

Analysts examined a database of almost all houses in the U.S., and for each city, they looked at the median size of homes in Core-Based Statistical Areas, which appears to refer to metro Atlanta, and not just the city proper.

Atlanta’s median size (1,914 square feet) wedged it between Houston and Washington D.C. The median value in this region ($196,000, or $104 per square foot) was on par with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and cheaper than places with generally smaller housing such as Detroit, Kansas City, and Chicago.

Meanwhile, Atlanta’s per-square-foot breakdown was relative peanuts compared to housing in other top 20 markets on the list, such as Boston ($259/square foot), San Diego ($345), and especially San Jose ($693).

A Lending Tree writer issued this backhanded compliment: “South equals size ... Southern cities dominate the top 10, with Atlanta, known for its sprawl, at No. 2.”

Lending Tree

For those scratching their heads about Washington D.C.’s No. 3 placement, Lending Tree notes that D.C.’s tony suburbs include the three wealthiest suburbs in the country, and money tends to equal size.

As does growth and available land, which helps explain the inclusion of three Texas boomtowns in the top 5—Houston, Dallas, and Austin, respectively—in a state that chalked the country’s largest population growth annually between 2010 and 2016.

“More new homes means larger homes,” notes the site.

On a broader scale, new houses across the U.S. today are generally larger than those built by earlier generations. In the second quarter of 2018, the median size of new homes was 2,412 square feet, Lending Tree writes, citing the U.S. Census Bureau.

Still, that’s down from the all-time peak of late 2015, when the median size of new houses had climbed to 2,488 square feet.

Lending Tree