The “sizzling” Texas real estate market made news across local and nationwide industry publications this summer, and developers could not be happier. Sales and prices are soaring and there’s plenty more demand for new housing to keep them busy for years to come. But are average home buyers getting what they pay for in terms of home size?
While elsewhere in the nation, people are paying more every year for the same-size house or apartment, or getting minor upgrades in their storage area, Texas residents have so far been lucky to live in some of the most spacious urban dwellings in the nation. However, with the increased demand putting pressure on builders, as well as on city infrastructure and available plots, are new-home owners going to pay the cost in both money and space? For now, figures show that residents in 5 of the 6 largest Texan cities can count on building trends staying in their favor.
To see how other US cities fare in terms of living space, check out our nation-wide study on average home sizes.
The average newly-built home in Houston counts 2,316 square feet, 700 more than 1980’s homes
As the largest city in the state, counting 2.3M people, Houston has a pretty good track record in terms of the average living space for each household, considering the size and urban landscape of the city. The average size of a home in Houston, across the overall housing stock, is 1,713 square feet – a little larger than the national equivalent. However, newer construction done in the past 25 years is far more generous. A home being built in Houston this decade has an average of 2,316 square feet for residents to enjoy. That’s 700 square feet more than the average 1980’s home owner got.
Meanwhile, rental apartments in Houston are comparatively small, with the average studio having 497 square feet, and the average 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom offering as much as 727 and 1,035 square feet, respectively. These property types make up the bulk of the rental market, and were the focus of a market analysis compiled by RentCafe published back in June.
An average Austin home owner lives in 2,068 square feet
Austin saw a similar evolution, and starting with the 1990s, the demographic and economic boom experienced by the city translated into a shift in the way homes are built. Larger homes started showing up both in the outer neighborhoods and in new high-rises in downtown Austin. In fact, the average size of a home here, irrespective of when it was built, is a remarkable 2,068 square feet – a figure coastal-city dwellers could only dream of! However, homes built in the present decade are smaller than those that came before them for the first time since the 1920s. The difference is quite substantial too – 350 square feet compared to the previous decade. Developers of today build 2,200 square feet in the average home.
Renting generally takes place at the lower end of the market, at least in terms of size, and indeed square footage trends are smaller on the rental market. In the case of Austin, this difference is substantial. An average studio in this city would be considered a micro-unit in most of America, spreading only 468 square feet. A typical 1-bedroom has little over 700 square feet, and a 2-bedroom 1,035 square feet.
Prices are getting higher, but so is the square footage in the Dallas – Fort Worth area
The buzz surrounding job opportunities and the expansion of professional service business in these two neighboring cities is attracting an influx of new population and with it, a race to secure good housing in a market with a very limited inventory. While new development is booming, housing currently available to prospective home buyers has proven insufficient this past summer, when the Dallas residential market hit new records in terms of both sales and prices due to high competition among buyers.
The good news is that during the construction craze generated by these trends, builders have shown no sign of downsizing new homes in favor of bigger numbers. Homes built in the past 6 years are larger than ever, and count an average of 2,613 square feet in Dallas, and 2,166 square feet in Fort Worth. This is much larger than the average for the full housing stock – 1,433 and 1,660 square feet, respectively. This means that those buying in new developments will indeed pay a higher price due to the strong market, but they will get to enjoy much more living space than the rest of the city’s residents.
The rental markets in these two cities are even more similar, with respect to size. In both Dallas and Fort Worth, the average studio has about 520 square feet, the average 1-bedroom has 700 square feet and a 2-bedroom offers about 1,030 square feet.
The average home size in San Antonio is the third largest in the nation
The second most populous city in the state is a record-setter in terms of large, spacious living quarters. Being more spread out than other major Texan cities, the low-rising San Antonio used to offer plenty of reasonably-priced land for home construction to thrive –though not anymore, according to local sources.
For now, the average size of homes in San Antonio is the third highest among US major cities, and almost 550 square feet larger than the national average of 1,632. Homes built between 2010 and 2016 actually rank even higher on the list, being second only to Orlando, and count a spectacular 2,947 square feet! This preference for large floor plans among local builders has actually been a trend for the past 25 years. Coupled with particularly high numbers of new developments in the first decade of this century, it gave San Antonians’ home comfort an edge over anywhere else in Texas.
In spite of the colossal average square footage that home owners get to enjoy, renters in San Antonio make do with far punier units. Studios cover a meager 474 square feet on average, while typical 1- and 2-bedrooms count 680 and 1,000 square feet, respectively.
Large homes and small prices makes for comfortable living in El Paso
The average home size in El Paso is now 2,089 square feet, with homes built in the last 6 years counting 2,340 square feet on average. Growth rates in this indicator over the past 100 years have been the lowest among the six largest cities in Texas. However, residents still enjoy expansive homes compared to most large cities in the US, while home prices are well below the national average.
The story is far different on the rental side of the market. According to RentCafe, El Paso has the second smallest rental units among the 100 largest cities in the nation. In fact, an average studio counts just under 400 square feet, a typical 1-bedroom has about 650 square feet and a 2-bedroom – just a little over 900 square feet.
Data used in the study included square footage for all single-family homes, condo and co-op units built in each decade, inside the city limits (i.e. excluding the metropolitan area). PropertyShark has building size data for properties across the US, aggregated from public sources. This data was used to calculate averages, with the exception of Austin, TX, where square footage found in for sale listings was used. National averages were calculated across all 50 states. All figures shown in the article represent the median value for each data set.