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With new houses getting bigger and land prices rising, older, smaller homes are biting the dust They're called teardowns, scrapers, or scrape-offs. But by any name, the procedure is the same: A builder or homeowner buys an existing home — most often in a desirable suburban neighborhood where land is scarce — tears it down, and builds a larger, more modern home on the resulting lot. Hard numbers on the practice are difficult to come by, but Mark Calabria, an economist with the National Association of Realtors, estimates that about 5% of last year's 1.3 million housing starts could reasonably have been classified as scrapers. Land recycling. Steve Hamilton is a Massachusetts builder AUGUST