Key Takeaways From the 2023 New Home Trends Summit

  • Categories:

    Industry Trends

  • Date:

    April 6, 2023

Key Takeaways From the 2023 New Home Trends Summit

Industry Trends

I recently had the pleasure of attending the 2023 New Home Trends Summit, the annual design and consumer trends conference hosted by John Burns Research and Consulting.

JBREC is a leading real estate research firm, providing builders, developers, architects and building products manufacturers with the latest U.S. housing analysis and market trends through the New Home Trends Institute.

The 2023 summit featured a variety of experts who shared what trends they see not just emerging but also evolving to become industry standards. Throughout the summit’s presentations and conversations, I was furiously taking notes and jotting down insightful nuggets.

Here are some of this year’s current housing trends and strategies that I found particularly intriguing.

1. Affordability is the biggest amenity in housing today.

    Across numerous keynotes and panel discussions, one theme was consistently repeated and discussed: affordability.

    Affordability — at any price level — can be achieved through the intentional and collaborative approach between builders, developers and designers to meet desired price points and still make homes meet buyers’ priority needs.

    One such solution is the concept of density, as both a pathway to affordability and a function of migration patterns, including the surge in out-of-state buyers in residential communities.

    In some ways, the antithesis of single-family, suburban sprawl, density trends focus on new residential development that houses more people in less space. Density refers to not only high-rise buildings but also scenarios ranging from single-family houses on smaller lots to townhouses and apartments.

    This trend toward building smaller residences also requires creative approaches to ensure homeowners still have the room and privacy they crave. With more and more people asking themselves, “Do we really need as much space?” more functionality and purposeful design in smaller homes are a must.

    My friend and colleague Group Creative Director Vivian Mize also attended the summit. Vivian has a wonderful sense of design and an eye for aesthetics. I asked her how she sees this desire to create more flexibility and unlock unused space reflected in current home remodeling trends.

    Here are Vivian’s three trends that can help maximize the available space in any size home.

    1. Broken-plan living: “During long COVID-19 pandemic quarantine periods, we found ourselves longing for a few more walls and cozy corners,” said Vivian. “Broken-plan living uses partitions, freestanding furniture, cabinetry and house plants to create distinct zones and nestlike nooks intended for working, relaxing or entertaining.”

    2. Dine-in kitchens: “The formal dining room has been going extinct for a while, but now homebuyers are opting to remove their kitchen tables altogether to save space,” noted Vivian. “Instead, builders are offering chair-height island countertops to maximize square footage. This trend is even being adopted by high-end home renovators.”

    3. Pocket offices: “Home offices were born from the pandemic and the need for everyone to have space to work within the home,” added Vivian. “Given the shrinking size of technology — from desktop computer to laptop and now sometimes tablet — home offices no longer need to be big. This new trend is all about maximizing space, and mini-offices can be integrated into closets, laundry rooms and even hallways.”

    2. Community development = community building.

    While today’s homebuyer may not want more square footage, current trends show they do desire more convenience and more experiences. When developing communities, the days of just putting in a community pool and calling it done are likely over. Increasingly, incorporating lifestyle elements, and even a community lifestyle director, can entice buyers to choose a smaller home when they know their neighborhood has plenty to offer.

    Some of the best community designs coming on stream now include:

    • Spaces to connect with neighbors and build community, such as gathering areas, parks, coworking spaces, greenhouses, dog parks and event spaces

    • Room to play and exercise, such as pickleball courts, fit barns and walking/running/biking trails

    • Modern technology amenities, such as EV charging stations and autonomous delivery vehicles

    A proactive focus on community building has unique ties to another trend discussed at the Summit: build to rent.

    In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of corporate landlords and institutional investors purchasing single-family homes to operate as rental homes. As an example, in 2021, more than 11,000 single-family homes in Charlotte were owned by rental conglomerates.

    With this model proving its value, investors are now planning and building entire single-home communities with the intention of only renting the houses, offering the experience of residential living without the commitment and stress of a mortgage, maintenance fees and property taxes.

    What are important components of a build-to-rent community?

    • Focus on location: BTR communities are more appealing when they are built near schools, shopping and areas with employment growth.

    • Focus on efficiency: Simplifying the manufacturing process for a BTR community can help manage costs by shifting away from semi-custom to more spec builds.

    • Focus on space: Trends in smaller homes are also found in the BTR industry, but smaller square footage doesn’t have to feel small. Higher ceilings, flex spaces and hidden storage (like under a staircase) can all help make a smaller home feel bigger.

    • Focus on durability: Because a BTR home will likely have multiple owners over the years, using materials that can stand up to use and abuse is recommended, as well as strategies to simplify maintenance — such as turfed yards and mechanical closets in garages instead of in the home.

    As I reflect on highlights from the summit, I see one common thread woven through each of these emerging home and building trends: Today’s consumer mindset is changing more quickly and becoming more complex than ever before. For brands in this space, we must move at the speed of light.

    Whether it’s a conscious shift from marketing products to marketing affordability, or creating more virtual sales tools that drive a digital-first approach to residential homebuying, the home and building brands that evolve along with today’s homeowner will continue to succeed. If you’re looking to stay ahead of the curve, check out six other home trends to watch this year.

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