In 2007, NAHB polled architects, designers, marketers, and manufacturers in an effort to identify the characteristics of the average home of 2015. The experts predicted that houses would continue to increase in size for a time, then gradually level off, stabilizing at somewhere around 2,400 square feet.

In the years since that prediction was made, of course, the housing market has taken a world-class beating. Recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the forecast leveling-off arrived ahead of schedule, and after a period of contraction. But smaller houses doesn’t necessarily translate into disappointed buyers: Findings from...

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