Don’t Grimace: McMansions May Be Disappearing

The term McMansion first appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune in 1990 as a pejorative reflection on the 3,000+ square-foot assembly-line homes built after the U.S. stock market boom of the 1980s. Usually clustered together in what would end up being called gated communities, McMansions filled a gap between modest suburban tract housing and upscale custom homes in country club communities. A second boom (this one created by 1990s technology companies) and subsequent crash later, the neighborhood behemoths now seem to be facing extinction. Having already been lampooned by Weeds, the blow is in housing figures that show a modest rebound in new home sales and point to an emerging trend: downsizing.

Los Angeles-based KB Homes is reporting success with a new, smaller model that is the company’s answer to the compact car. After a rash of foreclosures has prompted owners and prospective buyers to pursue cheaper living spaces, home builders are reacting in kind.

A recent story in USA Today reports that after doubling in size since 1960, new homes under construction shrank during the fourth quarter of 2008 by nearly 300 square-feet (to 2,343 square-feet).

And Gayle Butler, editor-in-chief of Better Homes and Gardens, believes that for many homeowners, either by necessity or by choice, homeowners are “right-sizing,” meaning they’re giving up big homes with unused space and buying houses that better fit their needs. “They’re willing to take a step back from the McMansions” she noted. According to a survey conducted by the magazine, 32 percent of participants said they expected their new home to be either somewhat smaller or much smaller than the one they already live in.

In other news, the downsizing trend seems to be affecting even Hollwood’s squares. If you’ve got nine figures to burn on a new home, we recommend checking out the house that soap built. Candy Spelling, widow of late Dynasty, Beverly Hills 90210 and Models Inc. producer Aaron Spelling, is putting her Los Angeles estate on the market for $150 million, making it the most expensive listing currently for sale in the United States.

The property, known as the Manor, is located in the Holmby Hills area of L.A., just a stone’s throw away from the Playboy Mansion. The 56,500-square-foot French-chateau-style home has more than 4.6 acres of land “about” 123 rooms and 16 to 26 bathrooms (the realtor seemingly lost count). There’s a bowling alley, a wine cellar and tasting room, a china room, a humidity-controlled silver storage room, a screening room and a barber shop (with a sister beauty salon).

And no, it’s not within the zip code that you’d hoped. Guess that lowers the asking price, too.