I’ve taken you along on a few of my dates with my husband. By now, you know we aren’t the typical dinner and a movie type of couple. Sure, we eat, but we prefer to check out high-ticket items rather than buy a theater ticket.
I’m sure you remember the test drive date. We scoped out a $40,000 vehicle on that date. This time we raise the bar. Into the millions.
I don’t know if your city has a home builder’s association, but Portland does. They like to showcase the skills of their members with “street of” home shows.
Before we built the home we live in, my husband and I walked down the “Street of Affordable Homes.” Too bad we didn’t buy there. Those houses are about five minutes down the road from his current place of employment.
The concept of “affordable” had gone by the wayside, as well. There has always been a Street of Dreams. The first one we went to back in the late 80s featured a million dollar home. That was the most expensive home in the show.
Boy have times ever changed.
Or maybe it’s the prices of homes that has done the turnaround. Whatever the case, this year’s Street of Dreams featured homes ranging in size from 4,520 square feet to 5,600 square feet. They were priced between $938,000 and $1,400,000.
I have to admit they weren’t nearly as dreamy as the last Street of Dreams we attended. There was a 10,000 square foot house in that show with its own gym in the basement and a two level pool as part of the landscaping.
No pools this year, although the landscaping in every yard featured some sort of water feature. I’ll show you the one I voted “best landscaping” in the show.
According to the census bureau, the median square footage of a new home in 1973 was 1,525 square feet. That increased slowly, until 1987 when the median jumped to 1,755 and has grown steadily since.
In 2010, the median home size was 2,169 square feet. Since I live in a 2200 square foot house and feel we’re close to average, I think these figures are fairly accurate.
Since the median is the number in the exact center of a set of data, I can say with authority that the enormity of the homes we viewed in Happy Valley must be at the high end of home size.
Why would anyone need such a huge home?
My husband suggested entertaining. Okay, so how often do these people entertain a crowd of 30 or more people? Because anything under that would fit easily in a more reasonably-sized home.
I know this because my in-laws host 30 people (or more) every year in their 1400 square-foot home. Yes, she uses her double garage and patio, too, but still it can’t be more than 1,800 square feet total. Not even half the footage of one of these “dream” homes.
In short, I think a house over 3,000 square feet is just adding size for an impression.
A more unsettling thought is that so many people spend a million dollars or more on a home. After all, these five homes were in a new addition to a huge neighborhood of sprawling homes. In fact, some of the other homes in the area might have been twice the size of the ones we viewed. That’s just insane!
Back to census figures to put this into perspective. You know that home in 1973 we talked about, it probably cost about $32,500. I know that everything cost less 40 years ago, but many cars will cost you this much in our world. Crazy!
The median new home price in 2010 was $221,800. This means that half the people buying homes in the United States paid less than this and half paid more. Does that mean those paying a million dollars are in the top ten percent?
A few weeks ago we looked at some 4,000 square foot homes that were priced between $350,000 and $600,000. They were every bit as nice as the ones on the Street of Dreams.
I suppose the most disappointing aspect of walking through these homes was the sense that they didn’t have any superlative features.
Sure, they had automated lights, heat and security cameras. So did the under-$600,000 homes in Vancouver.
Most of them had unique architectural designs that certainly cost more to build, but they weren’t gasp-worthy (I’m thinking Neuschwanstein castle here). In fact, nothing other than the sheer size of them made them more remarkable than the average, upper-scale home.
The landscaping of these homes did turn my head. I’m a sucker for water features and all of them had one or more fountain or waterfall. Of course, considering the sticker price, anything less would have been insulting.
In short, these homes didn’t feel like out-of-my-league buildings. They are beyond my pre-published writer’s income, of course, but I didn’t get the feeling Bill Gates or even Stephen King would have lived in one of them. Beneath their rank in society.
I’m not saying these weren’t beautiful custom built homes. I am saying that the size was excessive for what a family needs. After all, most of them had four bedrooms, meaning a family of five might be moving in some day. Does each person really need 1,000 square feet to live in? I think not, considering my first home was 1,200 square feet and four of us lived there.
What do you think about this display of financial success (or often a road to lifetime indebtedness)? How would you describe your “dream” home?