Trends For the Way We Live Now
For the past several years, buyers have been interested in homes with open floorplans, using “green materials” and offering other features such as flexible room to accommodate multigenerational families. Today, builders are looking to provide housing that appeals to the shifting demographics in our society. One big, common trend that crosses all generations of homebuyers is less reliance on the automobile, going to the cities to where they can work, shop and live without needing a car. The other trend is smaller suburbs with a downtown where they can walk to and offers entertainment, shopping and restaurants. Location has become more important than the size and amenities of a home. Some of the trends according to Barbara Ballinger, of Realtor Magazine are: well buildings, less maintenance, weather and energy, healthfulness, smarter technology, seed to feed, multigenerational togetherness, open plans on a smaller scale and universal design.
Well buildings are built without using harmful paints and products and they have features that conserve water and electricity and are built to provide a healthier life for the occupants. Windows are used to provide natural light and give the homeowners a feeling of being outdoors. Many have community or rooftop gardens or small container gardens. Cantata, a community on Baseline and 32nd Street has a community garden as a center for the neighborhood. Agritopia is a community in the southeast Valley that has been promoting gardening successfully.
Boomers and millennial buyers are also opting for less maintenance and using less water. They are installing turf that looks more realistic than in the past to conserve water and not have to mow. Builders are offering more features to insulate and make homes more protected from weather and offering solar panels so the monthly bills are lower. They are offering more than the general building codes require to attract buyers. An example is builders in California are building with materials that are less likely to burn as the materials of the past due to the fires they have been experiencing.
Multi-housing buildings are offering gyms, bicycle racks and workout classes in the building to make it convenient to lead a healthy lifestyle. Technology is also being incorporated to provide fast access to the internet and convenient places to charge devices and offering wireless connections so the homeowners do not have to run up their cell phone bills. Organic gardening is also a growing interest and it is predicted that there will be a demand for communal growing, cooking and eating areas. A developer in Brighton, Colorado is building a community of 438 residential units with 101 acres of farm. The developer claims that the baby boomers buying there prefer working in the fields to playing golf–in fact some of his development sites are on former golf courses. The millennials also like these open-space developments as well.
Living together is another big trend as buyers are looking for a sense of belonging and many families are caring for elderly parents and raising grandchildren. Belonging to a community can help with these pressures. Designer Marianne Cusato has a design called “The New Economy House,” which has a suite on the first floor with a private entrance to accommodate parents or boomerang kids living with them. It is designed so that it can be converted to other uses in the future as things change. Designers are also going more contemporary with edgy, fun and unique designs. Buyers are willing to give up space for design. Builders of multifamily buildings are including shared spaces in common areas to make up for smaller dwelling units. I just visited a friend in downtown Chicago and her building had a business center, large workout room, laundry room, library, meeting room and party room for the community to use. Another trend is that the aging population wants wider hallways and grab bars in the showers and bathtubs, however, they want them to be designed so that they are not obvious signs of aging.
These trends are happening locally and across the nation. Developers and builders are paying attention and making strides to give the buyers what they are looking for and we see it happening here in our own community.