With home building up, will McMansions return?

Nationwide, home-building permits are at a four-year high. But coming off the Great Recession, is there a market for luxury homes?

Jeff Horwich: This hour, the luxury home-builder Toll Brothers said profits in the latest quarter jumped 46 percent over last year. The CEO says he sees recovery across most of the country. But coming off the Great Recession, will the market for McMansions ever be the same?

From New Hampshire Public Radio, here's Dan Gorenstein.


Dan Gorenstein: Don't ask New Hampshire home builder Joe Spain about 2011.

Joe Spain: Last year we had one inquiry for a new home.

This year, business is getting better.

Spain: We're up 700 percent.

The builder says there's a real difference between what his clients want pre- and post-recession. Before it was family homes -- three-, four-car garages...

Spain: And I think today people are more or less getting back to basics. They are just looking to downsize. Single-floor living. And then have moderate finishes to fit their budgets.

It may be back to basics for Spain's customers, but Fred Cooper with Toll Brothers, one of the nation's top builders, says that's not what their clients want.

Fred Cooper: While initial buyers came in thinking maybe they wanted the lower-priced home, they ended up predominately buying the larger one. That's what they want.

So we may see more McMansions, but Los Angeles architect Buzz Yudell says the funny thing is we won't see as much of them. One of the hottest new trends: basements. No, not the ones with flimsy wood paneling.

Buzz Yudell: You know, special event rooms and wine tasting rooms and media rooms and spas, and it goes on and on.

Yudell says he knows of one newly constructed 9,000 square foot home, 3,000 of those feet below ground. It sold for $9 million in two weeks -- wasn't even listed.

I'm Dan Gorenstein for Marketplace.

About the author

Dan Gorenstein is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Health Desk. You can follow him on Twitter @dmgorenstein.

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