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Size of new homes in Texas triggers strong reactions

Size of new homes in Texas triggers strong reactions

Everything is bigger in Texas, they say. But it turns out that developers are starting to take things in a different direction: They are building affordable homes that many describe as far too small to live in and that many others see as the future.

Social media has been abuzz with a description of an 8,000-square-foot, single-story home being built in Fort Worth’s Risinger Court shared by journalist Lance Lambert. The home, a two-bedroom, two-bathroom property by developer Lennar that is part of a new single-family home development, is being sold at a starting price of $197,999.

X-user Don Johnson described the home Lambert shared as “basically a $200,000 detached condo with no garage,” adding, “Then why not just live in an RV? No property taxes.”

“I’d rather get a shed from Home Depot,” wrote another user on the social media platform. Another argued that “this has to be a troll post,” to which Lambert responded and confirmed that the listing was real.

“This is a real home being built by Lennar – one of the largest home builders in the country,” he wrote. “I’m not promoting it or badmouthing it. I’m just reporting on a trend: tight affordability is leading some builders to build smaller homes.”

Newsweek Lennar asked for comment via its website on Monday morning.

Building a house in Texas
Workers renovate the exterior of a newly constructed home in Austin, Texas, on March 19, 2024. The state known for its large-scale projects is now starting to build smaller homes.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The real estate offer had as many admirers as critics.

“I think this is fantastic,” California real estate agent Carol Walsh wrote on X. “It’s the perfect size for someone just starting out or a couple starting a family. Great for Grandma who wants to downsize so the grandkids can stay over,” she added.

“Two-room apartments of around 74 square metres were very popular both before and after the war. There are still many of them in my area and buyers are still being found for them every day.”

“This is exactly what I want to see! It’s cute! Affordable and ATTRACTIVE tiny homes are the winner!” wrote real estate agent Melissa Savenko on the social media platform.

“I love this concept. However, my experience is that empty nesters (boomers) don’t buy anything smaller than $1,500-$2,000 when downsizing,” wrote real estate agent Craig Kamman. “We have some really nice 900-square-foot units that should be selling much better than they are.”

MacroEdge editor-in-chief Ulysses Awsumb wrote on X that real estate is “the product that is needed. That people don’t want. A huge dilemma.”

With a starting price of $197,999, Lennar’s Fort Worth home is more affordable than the median sales price of a home in Texas, which was $356,900 (for all home types) in May, according to Redfin, and the median list price of $389,900.

But the average price per square foot is actually higher. While the average price per square foot in the state is $181, for the small house in Risinger Court it is about $259 per square foot.

It’s also true, as critics of the Lennar home said, that the home is much smaller than what Americans are used to. The average square footage of a single-family home in the U.S. was well over 2,000 square feet in 2022, according to Bankrate.

However, at a time when housing remains unaffordable for many and mortgage rates across the country remain high and supply is limited, purchasing a smaller home may be a worthwhile option for some, especially first-time buyers.

“Don’t overextend yourself to get something you can’t afford right now — no one wants to be house poor,” advises Bankrate in a report praising smaller homes. “Over time, as your income increases and your finances become more stable, you’ll likely be more able to afford a larger home.”