Feb. 11—Monika and Daren Jordan gladly gave up a little yard space and a second floor when they bought a new home last year.
Although their young children like to play outdoors, the Jordans figured that moving from a two-story house would make it easier to keep an eye on the little ones’ foot traffic. It would be less of a chore to clean and more comfortable for grandparents visiting overnight.
The couple, both 40, also had an eye toward their next upgrade. Monika Jordan said she’s betting that aging baby boomers will increase the market for single-story homes like hers.
“We’ll have more of an audience,” she said. “Older people who don’t want to navigate two stories.”
She’s on to something. After declining steadily for more than three decades, the percentage of single-story homes in the U.S. has risen steadily in the past few years.
Builders in the Houston area and nationwide agree that the boomers are driving some of the trend, but they say it’s not just empty-nesters and retirees looking for one-story homes. They’re introducing new plans in response to demand from young families and single professionals who aren’t necessarily sacrificing space for convenience.
In 1973, fewer than one in four U.S. homes were two or more stories. But a National Association of Home Builders study last summer found that changed dramatically over the following three decades, until the multi-stories made up 57 percent of the supply in 2006.
Since 2006, however, these trends have reversed. The share of single-family homes increased to 47 percent last year, while the share with two or more stories dropped to 53 percent.
At Cross Creek Ranch in Fulshear, where the Jordans moved last year from Richmond, half of the sales since the neighborhood opened in 2008 have been one-story houses. The couple paid $245,000 for their 2,600-square-foot home, which includes three full bedrooms and bathrooms.
“When I saw the neighborhood I fell in love with it,” Monika Jordan said. “We have a smaller yard now because a one-story takes up more of a lot, but I really like the open floor plan.”
She also likes the easier maintenance.
“I don’t have to lug cleaning supplies up and down the stairs anymore,” she said. “That was such a pain for me in our other home.”
Ashton Woods Homes, which built the Jordans’ home, has introduced at least six new one-story plans across the city since August—compared to four new two-story plans.
The single-story homes range from about 1,500 square feet to just more than 3,100 square feet, with up to five bedrooms, and are priced from $130,000 to the $360,000s.
The Atlanta-based builder took note of the popularity of one-stories at the end of 2009, said spokeswoman Carrie Roehling.
Of the nearly 1,250 existing homes in Bridgeland, a growing master-planned community in northwest Houston, about 35 percent are one-story.
David Weekley Homes, which is building in Bridgeland as well as other developments in the city, says 45 percent of its sales in the Houston area in 2010 were for single-story homes—compared with 43 percent in 2008.
Builders say single-story homes generally cost more per square foot to build. But while many home owners don’t want to deal with stairs, they also don’t want to give up square footage, said Gene Swang, David Weekley’s Houston division president.
Buyers in Lakeland Heights, a new neighborhood within Bridgeland, tend to be empty-nesters or young professionals, he said.
“We just want to sell what people want to buy,” he said. “Our first thought is we think that people want nice one-story plans, but they also want the option of having game rooms or secondary bedrooms upstairs, so we’re going to continue to maintain that.”
Gaye Barclay, 54, and her husband, Neal, 57, moved from a two-story into a one-story in September. Their grown children had moved out about 10 years ago.
The parks, waterways and urban feel of Lakeland Heights lured them into buying what they expect will be their retirement home.
A one-story is easier on her husband, who has had knee-replacement surgery, Gaye Barclay said. Besides, she said, their builder wasn’t offering two-story plans with the master bedroom upstairs.
“I felt if I didn’t have a master upstairs, then I would never go upstairs,” she said. “So I would just be heating and air conditioning an area I never used unless I had company.”
The Barclays’ new 2,600-square-foot home is about the same size as their previous house, meaning there’s still plenty of room for their parents, two children and six grandchildren during the holidays
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