So if size is less desirable, what is rising to the top of the housing wish-list? Here are a few top trends in housing today:
As the cost of… everything… goes up, people are looking to energy-efficiency to save money. Tighter, well-insulated houses that hold their temperature (another aspect of smaller spaces and efficient design, on top of the use of technological energy-saving features), fixtures and appliances that consume less electricity, and heating components (like furnaces, water heaters, or ranges/ovens) that consume less fuel are top commodities for energy-conscious buyers.
Energy efficiency, the reduction of energy use and its associated carbon footprint, is a big part of green living, but there is a lot more behind this trend. Eco-friendly materials (either sustainably grown, recycled, or produced using green, waste-reducing methods) are a top feature for eco-minded buyers, as are low-emission windows, doors, and roofs, water efficient plumbing features. Another green feature is the return of the home garden for food and fun.
Downsizing their financial output is inspiring many people to downsize their lives. Many modern conveniences are becoming just that: a convenience, not a necessity. Stepping down to the true necessities is prompting new housing evaluations. Extra square footage in bathrooms, hallways, and other areas are being re-assessed and removed from new construction, re valued in existing homes. Housing upgrades are becoming more reserved and housing choices more modest.
Instead of expending in size, homeowners are looking to expand in quality: not a bigger kitchen, just a nicer, space-efficient one. Space-saving technology is booming in connection to quality materials. Homeowners are also more likely to splurge on the better flooring when there are fewer feet of floor or the fancier washer and drier in a compact configuration.
Whether you call it cohabitation, the extended family home, the on-site apartment, mother –in-law suite, or “doubling up,” Americans are rethinking living closer. Many are converting existing garage space or basements into living quarters, using extra rooms for extra income with family or standard renters. Moving grown children or aging parents back into the home is not only a more cost-efficient model, it’s also helping many families reconnect and care for each other. Families renting out their unused spaces are generating new avenues of income and forming new (or rediscovering old) ideas about living with other people.
Sprawling yards and long commutes are losing their appeal, while smaller lots and walking communities are shining anew. Urban areas are getting a much-needed boost in fixer-upping as the costs and benefits of close-living communities in easy reach of stores, work, and mass-transit are rediscovered.
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About Tom Davidson — Tom Davidson is Vice President of Colibri Real Estate, LLC. which operates online education providers Colibri Real Estate, Insurance License Express and License Tutor. Follow him on Twitter.