It shouldn't be any surprise that new homes are bigger than they used to be. But it may be a bit of a shock to learn just how much space we take up compared with roughly 40 years ago.
The median size of a new, single-family home sold in 2022 was 2,383 square feet, with a median sale price of $457,800, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Compare that with 1978, when the median size of a new home was just 1,655 square feet with a median sale price of $55,700.
Houses are getting bigger overall, but that doesn’t mean a larger house is right for you.
“Fit is super important, and people get complacent and they don’t think about if their home is still fitting them,” says Marni Jameson Carey, a home and lifestyle expert, author of “Downsizing the Family Home: What to Save, What to Let Go,” and president of Power to the Patients, a nonprofit organization.
Here are four signs your home may be bigger than you need or can handle.
- There are rooms you haven't spent time in for weeks.
- You haven't furnished the whole house.
- The property taxes are too much for you.
- Most of the stuff belongs to people who've moved away.
And here are four things you can do about it:
- Stay in a short-term rental for a while.
- Consider all your needs.
- Don't just downsize your home.
There Are Rooms You Haven’t Spent Time in for Weeks
A four-bedroom McMansion may have once been perfect for a house full of teenagers and hosting extended family for the holidays, but now all but your own bedroom is a guest room and you no longer host Thanksgiving for the family.
You Haven’t Furnished the Whole House
Whether you don’t need a room or can’t afford to put furniture in it yet, the fact that your furniture choices can’t match the house you bought may be a sign it’s not the right real estate fit.
“Plastic chairs on a patio on an $800,000 house, and you go, ‘What happened here?’” Carey says.
If you’ve lived in the house more than a few months and you’ve left entire rooms bare, ask if you’re ever going to take full advantage of the total square footage you own. If you see it as unlikely, consider "right-sizing" your property to fit with your lifestyle as well as your wallet.
The Property Taxes Are Too Much for You
You can deduct your state and local property taxes up to $10,000 from your itemized federal tax filing, but for many homeowners that still means they’ve got a few thousand dollars to pay without annual relief.
If the limit on property deductions isn't enough and means you’re financially strapped, you should rethink the home you own. Consider whether the location outweighs your ability to pay other expenses, and look at alternative cities or neighborhoods that might be able to provide the life you desire without the excessive costs currently tied to it.
Most of the Stuff Belongs to People Who’ve Moved Away
A classic empty nester problem is having all your kids’ belongings spanning from birth to college – and even beyond – with no real use for any of it. Trying to get your adult children to decide between keeping their macaroni art from first grade at their own house and letting you toss it can be tough for both sides, but keep in mind that your home shouldn’t be used as a storage unit.
Carey says, when given a certain amount of space, most people will naturally fill it up with belongings. In the case of empty nesters, that space is often filled with memorabilia that ultimately does not provide enough sentimental value to anyone to be kept. Put your foot down and have your kids come by to clean up and take what they would like to keep.
Even if you’d like to stay in your home in the long run, it’s important to regain control of the property when others stop living there. The worst-case scenario is realizing you need a smaller house or need to move to where you can get more care but feel overwhelmed by the task of clearing out the house. “Don’t be there as a default – be there by choice,” Carey says.
You’ve taken stock of your current living situation and think you’re ready to right-size your home. Here’s how you can get started:
Stay in a Short-Term Rental for a While
If you’re not sure where to move or what size home you’re ready for, consider a staycation for a week or two to try out a different neighborhood or home style.
Don’t Just Downsize Your Home
A smaller house means less space, so yes, you’ll need to take a few boxes to Goodwill or sell some furniture to avoid crowding your new home.
“Just because you have the space doesn’t mean you should fill it up,” Carey says.
Paring down your wardrobe to fit in a bungalow when you’re used to having a separate closet just for your shoes is difficult, but if you can’t get there, that may be a sign that you’re not yet ready to fit into a smaller property. The best home for you is the one you feel comfortable in.
If you want to sell your house and find a new one that better fits your needs, get in touch with Marks Realty Group. We'll be there to guide you through the process and help you find a home that works for you.
Source: U.S. News