Kermit Baker, chief economist for the AIA (American Institute of Architects) presented key findings of the 2012 first quarter AIA Home Design Trends Survey. The gist of the data is that the residential building market is steadily picking up, especially in the luxury and custom areas. According to the season's ABI (Architectural Billings Index) billings for residential architecture firms are the strongest in six years.
Homeowners are focusing on improving what they have or what they can afford instead of building with resale value in mind. The major trends in home design include
- housing sizes returning to pre-recession sizes, especially in renovation, addition, and luxury projects
- outdoor spaces becoming the new living room, even in non-temperate areas
- increased demand for more informal, flexible spaces
- improving accessibility in the form of single story and open space layouts
- adapting for long term/aging in place needs
Baker reports that the luxury market is showing the most improvement, probably because of stricter standards and requirements for credit and financing. Regardless, starter homes and improvements to existing homes are not far behind, which signals broader, slow improvement. He tells Mary Umberger of the Chicago Tribune,
"The major signals are strong, but the underlying economy is not strong. Housing is going to have to develop some momentum on its own.
Generally, you have to see job growth. People get a job, they buy a new home, that relationship is well-established. But it's also going to rely on pent-up demand, households that have been deferring buying a home deciding to take advantage of low prices and record low interest rates, saying, this is the time to move -- some sense of "whoops, we're at the bottom, prices are starting to move up, and so it's time to buy."
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