Americans are binging on big houses, and it’s locking millennials out of the housing market

couple standing in front of new home

If you’re a millennial or a first-time buyer excited to purchase a starter home, you’ll probably have trouble finding one. Not only are starter homes at a 50-year low, but the size of the typical American house getting built is bigger than prior decades, which suggests starter homes aren’t just low because of supply and demand. Not enough are being built.

The US has been underbuilding for years and not keeping up with buyer demand, but less of the small starter home is being built as well.

“Due to supply-side challenges, including higher regulatory costs and limited lot availability, it has been relatively more difficult to build entry-level homes over the last decade,” Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, told Insider in an email. “In fact, due to these factors, new home size increased between 2010 and 2014. For entry-level buyers, these factors have made homebuying more difficult by limiting available inventory.”

According to Freddie Mac data as reported on by the Wall Street Journal, there are fewer entry-level homes – homes of 1,400 square feet or less – than in decades. In fact, they have declined each decade to their current five-decade low. Per Freddie Mac’s analysis of Census data, the average number of entry-level homes built per year has declined from 418,000 in the late 1970s to 55,000 in the 2010s.

This could be bad news for millennials, as Freddie Mac notes in a May 2021 report that the generation is “at their peak first-time homebuying age.”

“We’ve got a record number of entry-level, demand buyers: the millennials coming into the market,” Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, told the Wall Street Journal. “And yet we’ve had a seven- or eight-year decline in entry-level homes, and that’s not going to change.”

Looking across two decades’ worth of data, supply for single-family starter homes has gone down. The following chart shows starter homes built as a percentage of total single-family homes completed.

Insider’s Taylor Borden reported that entry-level homes are great for millenials looking for something affordable, as this generation holds less wealth than their parents did at their age, but there aren’t a lot to go around these days.

At the same time, the floor area of homes being built has climbed from previous decades, although it’s gone down in recent years. The median floor area of a single-family home completed in 2020 was 2,261 square feet, per Census data.

As seen in the above chart, single-family homes have increased in size from previous years but dipped since 2015. Rose Quint, NAHB’s assistant vice president for survey research, previously told Insider this is because homes “reflected the preferences of those buyers that were still in the game.​​”

Based on Census’ housing characteristic data, 32% of the 912,000 single-family homes built in 2020 were 1,800 to 2,399 square feet, while entry-level homes made up only 7%, or 64,000, of single-family homes completed.

While the square footage of homes has climbed, lots have become smaller. A post by StorageCafé based on housing data from the Census said the typical American house is 4% bigger than 10 years ago, but the typical lot size is about 18% smaller. Lot sizes do vary, though, with Indianapolis having the largest lot size among the 20 largest US cities, per StorageCafé.

“The high demand for new housing in urban hotspots, low availability of land in those areas, growing construction costs, and Americans’ preference toward larger homes all converge, resulting in large new single family homes that make the most of their land plots,” Maria Gatea, STORAGECafé senior editor, told Insider in an email, noting median home sizes in these 20 cities have increased. “This means that first-time homebuyers have to compromise for space and move further away from downtowns.”

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Inside a real-life $2.8 million ‘Flintstones’ home in California

  • The Flintstone House is an eccentric house in Hillsborough, California.
  • It was designed in 1976 by William Nicholson and most recently purchased by Florence Fang in 2017 for $2.8 million.
  • Large dinosaur statues and other Flintstone-themed artwork cover the front and back yards.
  • Town officials from Hillsborough sued Florence Fang, stating that her property doesn’t comply with the community’s code.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: This is the Flintstone House. If you’re ever driving down Berryessa Way in Hillsborough, California, you can’t miss it. The house stands out among its neighbors with its smooth purple-and-orange domes, not to mention the huge dinosaur sculptures in the yard. When William Nicholson designed the house in 1976, he didn’t have “The Flintstones” in mind. That designation came later.

William Nicholson: When it first was nicknamed the Flintstone House, I was really taken aback because, I mean, this was my baby, this was my creation, and, you know, you had a pride of authorship come in there.

Narrator: Nicholson was actually inspired by the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. He had visited the mosque, and the interior domed ceiling made him want to design a home from the inside out. So even though the house gets a lot of attention for its funky exterior, the inside is also a sight to behold.

Colorful stained-glass windows are built into the walls. Round built-in shelves line the walls of the kitchen along with fun details like these swirling designs in the ceiling. Inside the tallest orange dome is a sitting area called the conversation pit. An orange upholstered couch curves around the front of the fireplace, and a big window looks out onto a succulent garden and patio.

The house has three bedrooms and two baths. One of the bathrooms has a stone bathtub and shower. Upstairs is the smallest bedroom that could also be used as a painting studio or just a lounge space. The house is filled with artwork and sculptures added by the owner, Florence Fang.

Florence Fang: Everything to me is a piece of art. Even the light is a piece of art. And all the windows, and the shape.

Narrator: Fang bought the house for $2.8 million in 2017. She says she’s loved the house since the first time she came inside. The conversation pit is her favorite part.

Fang: Every time I walk in this room, and there’s a high ceiling, and you’re sitting here, you just feel like yourself, kind of small. And you feel like so peaceful, but when you’re looking outside, and you see the cars on the bridge, and then suddenly you realize you still belong to the world, still belong to the community. That’s a very nice feeling.

Narrator: The house was already painted orange and purple when Fang bought it, but she took the “Flintstones” theme to a whole new level. Along with “Flintstones” sculptures, colorful mushrooms dot the yard. Aliens, dinosaurs, and other funky objects cover the property. But not everyone appreciates the eccentric decorations.

Town officials in Hillsborough filed a lawsuit against Fang, calling the house an eyesore that doesn’t comply with the community standards. But Fang is defending her vision. She says her house represents the idea of the American dream with all different kinds of creatures living together in harmony. And Nicholson agrees.

Nicholson: Why shouldn’t the house be fun? Why shouldn’t environments that we do be fun? Why shouldn’t architecture that we do be fun? This is fantastic, and this is what Florence has caused to happen.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in April 2019.

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Rihanna has just dropped $13.8 million on a sprawling Beverly Hills property

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The mansion is nestled behind lush hedges and gates in the mountains above Beverly Hills.

  • Rihanna dropped $13.8 million on her new Beverly Hills mansion.
  • She will be neighbours with other Hollywood stars including Sir Paul McCartney and Madonna.
  • Key features include a Balinese style master ensuite, a spa, and several al fresco terraces.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Singer and business mogul Rihanna has splashed out $13.8 million on a 7,600 square-foot mansion in Beverly Hills.

It could be her most expensive property purchase to date, according to The Real Deal. Apparently, it was originally listed for $15 million last year. The seller of the luxury abode is investor Daniel Starr, who bought it in 2016.

The listing said the Heather Road property was designed and executed as an elevated living experience.

It’s nestled behind lush hedges and gates in the mountains above Beverly Hills, close to the properties of other Hollywood stars including Mariah Carey, Madonna, and Rihanna’s “FourFiveSeconds” collaborator Sir Paul McCartney, Dirt reported.

The house was constructed in 1938 and has undergone significant changes, according to The New York Post. It features a “sophisticated design” that “blends both contemporary and traditional elements,” the listing said. It has five bedrooms and seven bathrooms.

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The seller of the luxury home is investor Daniel Starr, who bought it in 2016.

Other eye-catching features include a glossy black bull sculpture, a spa, a cabana terrace, a custom pool, and interior and exterior fireplaces scattered throughout.

Upstairs, the master suite captures the essence of Bali, with a five-star bedroom that faces Coldwater Canyon, and a custom closet with black lacquer cabinetry. Its marble-heavy ensuite master bath opens to an outdoor lounge area.

The “Diamonds” singer grew her estimated net worth from $210 million to $600 million from 2018 to 2019, according to Forbes.

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This California company makes smart, off-the-grid, and ‘healthy’ prefab homes for to $670,000 – see inside and how they work

A home from Dvele.4
A home from Dvele.

  • Dvele builds smart self-sustaining prefab homes that use AI to create a healthy home environment.
  • The “software-defined” homes use DveleIQ and 300 sensors to monitor itself and its occupants.
  • Dvele’s lineup includes both homes over 3,000 square-feet and tiny homes for $150,000 to $670,000.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

California-based Dvele is creating smart prefab homes with integrated artificial intelligence programs to make the homes healthier to live in.

While prefabricated homes aren’t a new concept, they’ve often been considered the future solution for our increasingly inaccessible housing market. As a result, several prefab home makers have seen an increase in public interest, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

This includes Dvele, a technology-forward prefab home maker with a focus on improving both human and planet health.

Dvele’s lineup of home models combine several major topics that have since popped up during COVID-19, specifically home buying, prefab homes, and health. Keep scrolling to see how:

Prefabrication allows Dvele to produce its homes regardless of the weather conditions, all within four to six months.

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Dvele’s homes under construction.

Once the homes are ready, they can be shipped to its final destination and set in place using a crane.

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Dvele’s homes under construction.

According to Matt Howland, Dvele’s president, smart prefab homes are “absolutely” the future.

The Elsinore model.4
The Elsinore model.

“Can you imagine an iPhone being built in normal construction conditions?” Howland told Insider in an email interview. “To achieve a self-powered, intelligent home, factory production is the way to go.”

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Dvele’s homes under construction

Like many prefab home builders, Dvele saw a boost in business during COVID-19.

The Elsinore model's primary bedroom.
A home from Dvele.

However, Howland attributes this more to the nature of Dvele’s “healthy” homes (more on this in a bit) than the prefab aspect.

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A home from Dvele.

Dvele emphasizes a mid-century modern design with an open floor plan throughout its homes.

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A home from Dvele.

Peeking around inside, the units all look similar to that of any traditionally built home.

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A home from Dvele.

Aspects like the large windows, sliding doors, entertainment areas, custom cabinets, and modern utilities make its prefab nature almost unidentifiable.

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A home from Dvele.

The homes all have robust air quality, water filtration, and energy saving systems.

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A home from Dvele.

The homes can also be customized, and customers can pick from one of Dvele’s six different exterior finishes.

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A home from Dvele.

Most of Dvele’s clients slightly customize their homes to fulfill their “dream home and lifestyle,” according to Howland.

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A home from Dvele.

Dvele has 13 models of varying sizes, but it’s Elsinore model is its most popular.

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The Elsinore model.

Elsinore has been a hit with the customers due to its design, open floor plan, and “popular bedroom and bathroom mix,” Howland told Insider.

The Elsinore model's front entry.
The Elsinore model’s front entry.

The $640,000 Elsinore home is 2,940 square-feet with four bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms.

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The Elsinore model.

The popular home has an open kitchen, dining, and living room layout. There are also separate laundry and powder rooms.

The Elsinore model's kitchen.
The Elsinore model’s kitchen.

The kitchen looks like any normal cooking area with its cabinets, pantry, stovetop, dishwasher, oven, and refrigerator.

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The Elsinore model’s kitchen.

Moving on, the living room has its own cabinets, an optional electric fireplace, and sliding doors that lead occupants out to the patio.

The Elsinore model's living room.
The Elsinore model’s living room.

The primary bedroom then has its own bathroom and a walk-in closet with wardrobes …

The Elsinore model's primary bedroom.
A home from Dvele.

… while the other two bedrooms share a bathroom.

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The Elsinore model’s primary bedroom’s bathroom.

The fourth bedroom – which can function as a guest room – has its own restroom.

The Elsinore model's guest bedroom.
The Elsinore model’s guest bedroom.

The full bathrooms all have the typical necessities, including wall-mounted toilets, showers, and vanities.

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A home from Dvele.

Other models in Dvele’s arsenal include the 3,523 square-foot Trinity. This option, the company’s largest offering, starts at $670,000 and includes four bedroom and 3.5 bathroom.

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A home from Dvele.

Tiny home enthusiasts can also find their fit with the company’s three 419 square-foot tiny homes ranging from $150,000 to $180,000.

The Emerald Mini Home from Dvele.2
The Emerald Mini Home from Dvele.

No matter the model, all Dvele homes are built with DveleIQ, the company’s proprietary “whole home solution” that integrates artificial intelligence “from the foundation up” to make a home’s interior environment healthier.

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A home from Dvele.

“While DveleIQ facilitates the normal convenience features of smart home tech, it also provides an intelligent system that will enhance the health of the occupant, the home’s energy efficiency, and even the durability of the home,” Howland wrote.

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A home from Dvele.

Smart homes aren’t just about lights that turn on and off automatically.

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A home from Dvele.

To Dvele, a smart home is a home that creates a healthy environment while learning to become become more efficient overtime.

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A home from Dvele.

The “software-defined” homes use over 300 sensors and DveleIQ to monitor different aspects of the home, from mold to carbon dioxide.

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A home from Dvele.

The home can then look into the reasons of any issues that have popped up.

The Elsinore model.
The Elsinore model.

For example, when the humidity level falls under a certain point, the home’s system will check for potential causes, such as open doors and the number of people in the home.

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A home from Dvele.

Another example: if the system notices potential water or mold damage, it will let the homeowners know, and can notify Dvele for any possible solutions.

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A home from Dvele.

However, the units still have all the typical “smart home” features.

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A home from Dvele.

For example, the home can monitor its occupant’s schedule and preferred thermostat settings to set the interior temperature before the homeowner arrives back from an outing, preventing the thermostat from working even when the home is empty.

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A home from Dvele.

To monitor its occupants, the home can use tools like smart phones and “energy consumption patterns,” according to Howland.

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A home from Dvele.

“Our homes are constantly learning about their occupants and adapting to them as they start to understand a user’s interaction with the home, anticipate their needs, and facilitate them through the home’s systems,” Howland wrote.

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A home from Dvele.

Dvele currently has a growing list of about 100 “intelligence home automations” that include detecting maintenance problems and helping its occupants relax at the end of the day, according to Howland.

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A home from Dvele.

“The goal of DveleIQ was to build a software-defined home that could sense in real time the state of the home and react accordingly,” Howland wrote. “Because of this, every Dvele home is continually getting better, like how software updates to a Tesla make it continually better.”

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A home from Dvele.

According to Howland, the public has received DveleIQ well, especially as more people have begun understanding that a “smart home” isn’t just automatic lights and temperature settings.

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A home from Dvele.

Beyond technological innovations for healthier homes, Dvele also excels in the sustainability space.

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A home from Dvele.

Dvele is able to decrease its waste output because its homes are prefabricated with different models that use several of the same materials.

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A home from Dvele.

With the help of DveleIQ, the homes are also designed to be planet friendly by incorporating aspects like solar power, insulation, and efficient hot water heaters.

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A home from Dvele.

Keeping in line with the company’s green forward mission, Dvele plants 10,000 trees for every home built, and uses “sustainable material sourcing.”

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A home from Dvele.

Like other sustainable prefab home makers, Dvele aims for passive house certifications.

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A home from Dvele.

The homes are also all self-powered, taking away any reliance on larger power grids.

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A home from Dvele.

This is possible with a Dvele home’s insulation, energy efficient amenities, and solar power use.

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A home from Dvele.

A Dvele home’s solar panel output changes per location and home type. As of now, most of the company’s units are based in California, according to Howland.

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A home from Dvele.

The prefab units also have backup battery and energy storage systems just in case.

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A home from Dvele.

Are you an EV owner? No worry. A Dvele home’s systems have enough energy to charge an electric vehicle.

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A home from Dvele.

“DveleIQ and our ‘Self-Powered’ initiative were both very well received by the market and we saw an uptick in owners looking for quality healthy homes,” Howland wrote. “Our sales and interest have continued to exceed our boldest expectations, it’s been awesome to see how our core tenets are resonating with prospective owners.”

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A home from Dvele.

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