More About Square Footage VS. Design – which matters most?

Measuring homes in square feet

I was at the David Weekly Homes design center yesterday looking at their model home. It’s a beautiful floorplan by the way. If you live in Austin and need design ideas, you have to visit their design center and tour the model home. It’s one of the best floorplans I’ve ever seen for families.

Anyway, their marketing material has some interesting writing with regard to design vs. square footage. It says “Innovative design isn’t measured in square feet or on a calculator. It’s expressed in cubic feet and light and the way a room feels when you enter it. Nothing has a greater impact on your home’s value than design. Sight lines, room placement, traffic patterns – exceptional design is as much a science as it is an art.”

The brochure continues with “Two homes have the same square footage yet one seems much larger than the other. Why? The difference is something called sight lines. Sight lines are what you see from any given point in the home, whether you are standing in the doorway or seated in a room. As you move through a home, it’s far more interesting to get a preview of what’s to come with subtle hints of the spaces beyond than to be cut off from the rest of the home – which is why a David Weekly Home looks and lives larger than all the rest.” Sounds pretty good, and I agree. In fact, I’ve pointed this out in previous articles with regard to why some older homes, with choppy, boxy, layouts do not compete well against smaller, newer homes with better floor plans.

These “sight lines” and design factors help explain why the home that I recently wrote about which was less than 1800 square feet at first appeared to be over 2100 square feet, as the MLS listing indicated (see the blog post prior to this one for the full story). That home had an open, flowing layout and seemed bigger than it really was. The argument the agent and owner at first tried to make, in defending the square foot shortage and saying it didn’t matter, was similar to what Weekly says above with regard to design and flow.

But here’s the kicker, if you go to the David Weekly website to search floorplans, what do you think the second question asked is – after you select your city? It’s square footage desired. I assume Weekly has vast resources for studying the purchasing behavior of real estate shoppers, so something told them that Square Footage needs to be first and foremost in the initial search on their website, yet everything they say about design being more important than size is also true.

Some people do value square footage over design, otherwise KB Homes would not have sold the number of big, boxy cheap 3,000+ sqft homes that they have built all over the country. Others do prefer design elements, otherwise small high-end condos with 1100 square feet would never sell for the price per square foot that they do. For others of course, location trumps everything. But no matter what the primary motivating factor, people will always still ask about the home, at some point, “what is the square footage”, and they will factor the answer into their purchase decision.

Steve Crossland

Steve is a Real Estate Blogger, UT Austin Grad, Real Estate Broker and owner of Crossland Team and Crossland Real Estate in Austin TX.

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