Hot new-home trends for 2011
Practicality is in, as homebuilders cater to buyers' changing wants and needs.
The housing market may be down, but it's not out. Houses continue to be built across the nation, especially homes aimed at first-time buyers. But the Great Recession has limited the bells and whistles that many people demanded under their new roof even four years ago. Would-be homebuyers want — and are getting — different things from "home sweet home" today.
From front porches to LED lights, here are the top six things experts say are trendy in new homes for 2011. How does next year's wish list compare to yours?
1. Smaller homes that 'live' the same
"One big trend is the smaller homes," says David Barista, editor-in-chief of Professional Builder and Custom Builder magazines. In fact, the median size of new U.S. homes fell from 2,277 square feet in 2007 to 2,135 square feet in 2009, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
"There's a couple drivers here," Barista says. "I don't think buyers are looking for that opulence of several years ago; they're looking for something more modest. (But) they still want the amenities and the spaces" in these smaller homes.
So he's not seeing the number of rooms in a home being cut; instead, the size of the rooms — and the overall home size — is shrinking 10% to 15%. That, of course, also brings down the price, which is key in a market in which new houses are competing against foreclosures.
Despite that shrinkage, Barista says homeowners still want nice touches such as quality faucets, higher-end appliances and granite countertops in that smaller kitchen.
2. The old front porch, revisited
Front and side porches are making a comeback, says Kermit Baker, chief economist for the American Institute of Architects, which performs a quarterly Home Design Trends Survey. One reason is simple: Front porches help create a sense of community, something that more traditional suburbs lack.But something else is driving the interest in front porches, Baker says. Thanks to the recession and the soft housing market, homebuilders have sharply curtailed their construction of big, self-standing communities of hundreds or even thousands of homes. Instead, they're doing more "in-fill," adding dollops of homes here and there among existing homes. Porches can help integrate these homes with the existing community, Baker says.
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