A staggering 39.2 million American households consist of people  living alone or with nonfamily members, changing the outlook for real estate professionals who want to design and sell homes to this demographic, John Burns Real Estate Consulting said in a report Friday. As the old saying goes "times are a-changing," and the consulting firm believes the real estate community has to embrace the incoming tide of nonfamily households in some shape or form. So who are these trend-breakers who have increased their ranks from 7.9 million to 30-million plus in the last 50 years? These households are more likely to prefer homes under 2,500 square feet, while families in the recent past desired 3,000-square-foot homes. This emerging demographic desires no more than three bedrooms and forget the size of the home, in reality they want proximity to work and entertainment. While this segment still values a sense of community, they are less likely to praise the virtues of media rooms, community pools and tot lots, the John Burns report says. This is not the first time John Burns Consulting has pointed to demographic data to help builders and sellers figure out today's homebuyer. The firm told the real estate industry earlier this year the rental market is about to explode, with some cities in line to see a 25% growth in rental demand within the next three years. That trend also is expected to be driven by younger, less-traditional home dwellers. Write to Kerri Panchuk.