Smaller lots are another trend in newly built homes because of infill development (reusing obsolete or vacant buildings), high land costs and homebuyers' disinclination to do a lot of yard work.
"The urban buyer is more interested in having a place, but not necessarily a large yard," Ritchie says. "They're outsourcing that to the city parks, having open space nearby, not necessarily on their property. A large lot is not really desired."
A smaller lot also can mean lower property taxes, because much of a property's assessment is tied to its land value.
A smaller lot also typically means a miniaturized backyard and two-story or multilevel house with an open floor plan that maximizes the living space.
The average size of new detached houses constructed in 2012 was 2,505 square feet, according to Census Bureau data.