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Friday, June 15, 2018

What’s trending and who’s in the driver’s seat?

Sometimes trends emerge in response to economic times, land availability and family needs.  Millennials and Empty Nesters have much in common as they drive the housing market in search of a simple, easy to maintain lifestyle.  Nearly 75 years after WWII’s returning GIs pushed the suburban sprawl of ranch homes across America, an entirely new generation, aka “Millennials”, is in the driver’s seat.  What I’ve observed in working with this consumer group can be broken down into several broad categories:  Location Trends; Function Trends, Techno Trends and Finishes.

Living in the suburbs is still popular however, both Millennials and Empty Nesters like to be within a forty mile radius of city life.  The safety, good schools and close proximity of neighbors is preferred over cramped apartment or condo living in downtown areas (even though the downtown areas offer shorter commutes and more extensive cultural choices).  Today’s home buyer/builder likes to live close to the city, not necessarily in the city.  The average American suburb offers such a broad choice of shopping, dining, and cultural events, that many Millennials prefer hanging out at home or at their neighborhood restaurant.   

The function of space within the home has become more important than square footage.  Gone is the need for huge homes that require exorbitant maintenance and huge budgets to operate.   Separate laundry rooms, food pantries, mud rooms and walk-in closets are examples of the importance of functional spaces.  Multiple garages with ample storage and even pet bathing stations are also trending.   Basements are no longer used as basements.  Finished lower levels with easy access to the back yard is a popular choice, as today’s more frugal buyer/builder realizes it’s more cost effective to have a lower living area than a second floor.   Dedicated home office space is another required, functional area that more and more consumers want.

Techno trends can be summed up handily.  They are everywhere.  We have technology to control lighting, entertainment devices, heating and cooling systems, and security.  Homes are now smart!

What is popular in finishes tends to come and go as new innovative products are hitting the market at a rapid pace.  On the interior, trending now is:
Open floorplans with smaller formal dining spaces
Large master bedroom suites with dressing areas and luxurious baths
Smart, up-scale kitchen appliances
Wood stained kitchen cabinets and trim
Mixed metal hardware and fixture choices

Exterior trends include:
Outdoor living spaces that include grilles, cooktops and refrigeration
Firepits and outdoor fireplaces
Low maintenance landscaping and simple driveways
Multiple exterior finishes to accentuate personal style
Combination brick, stone, siding and metal roofing

Have trends in the housing market come full circle?  Once again, living in the suburbs with your family in a house of simple, economical design is all the rage.  Clean, functional aesthetic and efficient functional design appear to be ruling the housing market today just as they did for those returning GI’s so many years ago.

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