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The McMansions Are Empty

By Tanya Svoboda
October 2019

An article written about the McMansion housing style used the phrase, “crown-moldings-of-death.” While this word choice is a bit dramatic, it does reflect a very real trend – the death of the suburban architecture style known as the McMansion.

If you’re not familiar with the term “McMansion”, Business Insider defines a McMansion as “a cookie-cutter suburban home of between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet, the McMansion was considered the ultimate sign of affluence in the late 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, before the crash of the housing market in 2008.”

McMansions have been around since the 1980’s but it was in the 2000’s, when banks were readily handing out low interest home loans that they really saw an uptick. Couples who coveted the McCallister family property when they took their small children to see the movie Home Alone – suddenly had access to those same sprawling closets and granite countertops. Retirees who envisioned a full house of visiting grandchildren moved into multiple bedroom homes instead of downsizing.

Unfortunately, the difficulty in maintaining a large home and the housing crash translated into an inordinately large number of McMansions being put onto the market. The Sunbelt states, a favorite of retirees, currently has the largest number of empty homes.

The Wall Street Journal writes, “The area around Scottsdale, Ariz., also popular with wealthy retirees, had 349 homes on the market at or above $3 million as of February 1—an all-time high, according to a Walt Danley Realty report. Homes built before 2012 are selling at steep discounts—sometimes almost 50%, and many owners end up selling for less than they paid to build their homes, said Walt Danley’s Dub Dellis”.

While lower energy costs are encouraging the new generation of home buyers to look at the suburbs where these McMansions are located, the price is still too high. Business Insider stated that “Millennials buying their first home today are likely to pay 39% more than baby boomers who bought their first home in the 1980s.” Millennials also hold more student debt than the baby boom generation did, and contend with a stricter lending environment. All of which means that there will be an echo in many McMansions for a long time.


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