It wasn't that long ago when ownership of a large SUV was a status symbol - at least in some quarters. Then, too, there was lots of prestige attached to the "mega house," with such glorified features as the professional kitchen and multiple gas fireplaces.
But in a recessionary period like this - when frugality is considered more of a virtue than extravagance - it's a lot harder to impress your friends with any sort of SUV, even a Lexus. Likewise, it's tough to wow people with a palatial property that carries whopping mortgage payments.
Of course, many home buyers with growing children still yearn for a spacious house with lots of extra elbow room. But in hard economic times they're more interested in opting for a place with payments comfortably within their reach, says Kay West, former president of the Council of Residential Specialists (www.crs.net).
Budget-conscious buyers are also extremely cognizant of the energy costs associated with the ownership of a large home, she says, and many purchasers under 40 are especially focused on the environmental impact of owning a big place.