For All but the Rich, New Homes Downsize

The 3,750-square-foot Coventry, an older Wieland home, has a two-story foyer and a grand staircase.The Wall Street Journal shares a wide range of information about downsizing homes in most parts of the country. I find this comparison of before and after stairways a bit overstated, but grandeur isn’t what it used to be.

“You have to keep taking things out until you hit a critical point where people reject your product,” said Jeff Kingsfield, senior vice president of sales at Smyrna-based John Wieland Homes & Neighborhoods.

Mortgage applications hit a nine-year low last week, plunging a seasonally adjusted 11.7%. New home sales have dropped from 1.3 million in 2005 to 485,000 last year. This year is on track to be even worse, with just 294,000 new homes sold in the first nine months of 2009.

Builder of luxury homes Toll Brothers reported this week that net contracts for new homes rose 42% in the three months ending Oct. 31. Customers are more conservative in making the decision to buy, but when they do, they want a larger home with luxe details. via Wall Street Journal

The Etowah, a new model, has a modest stairway. ‘It’s not about impressing anymore,’ says the company’s sales chief.