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Farewell to the McMansion. Hello, right-sized homes.
Back in the 80s, we experienced many trends, like Miami Vice fashion, mullets, leotards and legwarmers, and the birth of the Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Care Bears, and Cabbage Patch dolls. We also endured a period of big hair, big "boombox" stereos, and even bigger suburban homes tucked into smallish lots.
Some of these 80s trends have lasted. Others, thankfully, became extinct.
The McMansion survived, with lapses over the past 30 years. A 2016 Bloomberg article described these 3,000- to 5,000-square foot homes as “large, mass-produced, delivered in a tight package (land), and looked the same, regardless of where you bought one.” Trulia called McMansions “the biggest suburban movement since the first tract homes of Levittown.”
These oversized homes allowed people to live larger, but many communities considered them an eyesore, packed into a homesite like someone squeezing into a pair of jeans that were two sizes too small.
The boxy architecture, reports the Chicago Agent, is seen by today’s homebuyer as “a symbol of pre-recession housing excess.” Homeowners are looking for more sensibility in their homes. “It is their status as a symbol of the housing crash, paired with their mismatched architecture and sterile feel.”
These housing trends show that homeowners are more concerned with quality than quantity. They are quite willing to sacrifice size, but want to keep the luxury. Open concept design with well-appointed kitchens, and generous master suites are more important than total square footage. Today’s homebuyer is also looking for energy efficiency and low-maintenance yards. They gladly forego the overstated foyers and grand formal spaces to gain these more valued features.
While McMansions were on the rise in the 1980s, Ed Bacome and Phil Fankhauser were bucking the trend and took another route. They began building Epcon Communities, neighborhoods of single-level homes that offered style, luxury, and quality—as well as low-maintenance living that often included exterior yard care in the HOA.
In spite of certain buyers’ penchant for super-sized homes, Epcon Communities grew, adding new neighborhoods year after year. In the last 31 years, Epcon Communities has established more than 375 new home communities in 28 states. And the growth continues.
“Today’s homebuyers are looking for a lifestyle,” explains Fankhauser. “We have always focused on the way a person lives in a home, not the sum total of square footage.”
Epcon homes include a private courtyard that has become a signature feature. Many models also offer the option of extending the single-floor concept, by adding a second-floor bonus room and, in some communities, a finished basement.
“We never saw this concept of quality living and smarter design as a ‘trend’,” says Bacome. “We saw a definite need in the marketplace, and one that wasn’t just a phase.”