A survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has found that the size of a home preferred by home buyers varies by age, race, and ethnicity.   The 3,600 home buyers surveyed recently by NAHB preferred a home with a median of 2,226 square feet, but size home dropped steadily as the respondent's age rose.  Those younger than 35 specified a median of 2,494 square feet as ideal while those over age 65 preferred a home of 2,065 square feet.

"The building industry wants to know how much space buyers want in their homes" said Rose Quint, NAHB's assistant vice president for survey research, and one of the study's authors. "This study provides us with new insight into the home size preference of home buyers as a whole, but also across different demographic groups."

Minority buyers desired more space than White, non-Hispanic buyers.   Asian buyers had a median ideal home of 2,280 square feet, Hispanic buyers specified 2,347 square feet, and African-American buyers 2,664 square feet.  White, non-Hispanic buyers wanted the smallest homes with a median of 2,197 square feet.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau the median home size peaked in 2006 but then fell over each of the next three years. It has now been rising since 2010 and estimates indicate that the median size of all single-family homes started in 2012 was 2,309 square feet, and the average was 2,521 square feet.

The availability of credit and hence home prices are the primary reasons home sizes are growing again.  Due to stringent mortgage lending requirements in recent years, home buying and building have reflected the preferences of those who are still able to obtain credit and put down larger down payments--typically wealthier buyers who can afford larger homes.