A Home for the Kids, Too.
Banks release residential properties they’ve been holding at the rate of a near- indistinguishable trickle despite multiple months of rumor-like predictions to the contrary, and real estate investors scoop up large percentages of available inventory with all cash purchases. Multiple offers (sometimes as many as 20-30 on one property) from wanna-be homeowners, push prices high out of reach. Often they, too, are outright-cash buyers. Again the banks are left out, the problem is further exacerbated, and the cycle repeats.
My heart goes out to people who want to buy a home these days, especially young people hoping for a starter home. It was so easy when it was our turn.
For those of us who are staying put, we’ve changed what we’re doing with our houses.
What’s hot, is energy efficiency and sustainable products, electronics and wireless systems, multi-function rooms, forward thinking baby boomer aging-in-place strategies, outdoor living and the home office.
What’s not, is grandiose bathrooms and singular or special-function spaces.
The home office, reports Kermit Baker, AIA Chief Economist, is in strong demand. “With the continued popularity of telecommuting–and with many workers catching up on work at night and on weekends, and a growing share of the labor force working on a self-employed or contract basis–home offices remain a priority.”
In addition, Baker points out two marked trends, namely, a focus on energy efficiency (think triple-glazed windows, tankless or point-of-use water heaters, water saving options, etc) and synthetic/engineered materials that require low maintenance (think wood alternatives for decks, gates and fences, alternative walkway materials, artificial turf, etc). And, older adults intent on aging-in-place are an increasingly large sector of the market.
The National Association of Home Builders is forecasting an increase in single-family home remodeling this year, as is Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, which is predicting a whopping 19.6% increase over last year, on spending for additions, remodels and other major home improvements. When you look closely, it shows that homeowners are defining their budgets by what they’ve saved; (despite the attraction of still low –well, at least for now– interest rates); ease of financing isn’t what it once was. Even if this means doing smaller projects or working in phases, they should remember to have a plan for the entire project before the start of work. It controls costs and timing overruns.
Livability is the key word these days, more so than ROI. Returns are best only after many years and healthy appreciation. Fortunately, the economic downturn created a ‘survival of the fittest’ impact on the contractor marketplace.