The days of homebuyers going after the biggest, best house they can afford (and sometimes can't afford) are over.
"Buying a home used to be all about size and luxury, but now it's about buying a functional home; one that is satisfactory and just large enough," says Roxanne Gennari of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Princeton Junction, N.J. "Some people still want a big home, but those that have owned one often want something smaller and not some rambling home that's expensive to heat."
Gary Rogers of Re/Max on the Charles in Waltham, Mass., says homebuyers want smaller homes for several reasons.
"It's partly a reflection of the recession, that people are being more careful and conservative," Rogers says. "They are concerned about the manageability of their home, property taxes and utility bills, and they want to be able to save money even after they buy a home."
Rogers says that while empty nesters are particularly eager to downsize, almost all buyers share the same sensibility about size.
"It used to be OK to be extravagant, to look for a home that had 2,500 or 3,000 square feet when they really only needed 1,800 square feet," says Rogers. "Times have changed."