Big Houses

The Downsizing Trend: A Path to Wealth.


As the largest generation in 100 years comes into retirement, they are following the general trend - downsize. However, the younger generations are not following the historic trend of increasing the size of their homes. As supply rises and demand falls, there can only be one outcome, price declines.

“Big houses are a waste. People are still in a mode of thinking about houses that is kind of 19th century. As we modernize, we don’t need all this space,”
— Nobel Prize-winning economist and Yale University professor Robert Shiller

Big homes have large open to below spaces (heating empty air), larger lots (with more maintenance), exclusive neighborhoods (with HOA fees and regulations), and there appears to be a generation who isn’t interested in any of these things. What was once seen as a status symbol of success is increasingly being seen as a liability that keeps people from doing the things that they want to do.This is consistent with the data that shows that the fastest growing part of the market inventory is the $750,000 range nationwide, and that the market needs 15% more in the $100,000-340,000 range to achieve equilibrium (read here for more information). If this trend continues we expect to see increasing declines in higher end homes over the next 20 years, and there may be evidence that it has already begun in our areas. Indiana County has been experiencing property median price declines for the past 3 years, and, higher quality homes do not appear to be immune. However, the area of Monroeville has seen pockets of increase over the last 3 years, yet higher quality median home prices appear to be declining.


"The key to wealth building is to live in a home that one can easily afford," Sarah Stanley Fallaw, the director of research for the Affluent Market Institute, wrote in her book "The Next Millionaire Next Door: Enduring Strategies for Building Wealth." Stanley Fallaw studied 600 millionaires and found that most of the them had never purchased a home that cost more than triple the amount of their annual income.

While home ownership is a great possible part of building wealth, the old conventional wisdom that property values only ever go up, has been proven to be broken. THE ONE sure fire way to build wealth is to live well below your means, and that includes where you decide to live.

For more on the topic, read these articles:

Yale economist says large homes are a waste of money.

The growing trend towards downsizing.