11 July 2012

My Four Favorite 2012 Housing Trends

As you might have noted already, I'm featuring some of my favorite bloggers as guest posters in this, Gold Notes' Fourth Anniversary month-long celebration.  Thanks for sharing it with us!  This particular post is one of my own... Didn't think I'd skip out for a month, did you???

I decided to share a good news business post this week.  I’m personally and professionally delighted to see the housing market start to improve. I’ll bet you are, too. These are my four favorite key findings from the 2012 First Quarter American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey, excerpted directly from their web site. The survey is based on input from their member residential architects across the country, sharing data from their own professional practices.  The only changes I made were in the subheadings.

Accessibility Increases 

In an effort to appeal to as broad a population as possible, in-home accessibility (e.g., wider hallways, fewer steps), is the home layout trend increasing the most in popularity. Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents feel that this feature is increasing in popularity, while less than one percent feel that it is decreasing. Features that allow better access into and out of the house, (ramps, on-grade entrances) also grew in popularity. 

Open and Informal Reigns

Open space layouts in the home with flexible floor plans also continue to increase in popularity. Over half of respondents (55 percent) indicate that open space layouts, as opposed to separately defined and enclosed rooms, are increasing in popularity. A somewhat related trend is that over half of respondents report that informal space in the home is increasing in popularity 

Property Enhancements Flourish 

Even without increases in lot sizes, households are continuing to pursue property enhancements. The 2012 survey shows that interest in outdoor living space increased, with almost two-thirds of respondents indicating that outdoor living space, covered outdoor space, and outdoor rooms are increasing in popularity. 

However, the outdoor feature that residential architects report as showing the greatest increase in popularity is low-maintenance, low-irrigation landscaping. Almost two-thirds of respondents indicate that this trend is increasing in popularity, which is roughly the same level of interest seen over the past several years. Low-irrigation landscaping promotes sustainability, as do other popular property enhancements. Rainwater catchment systems and gray water reuse are reported as popular outdoor features. Green landscaped fencing options (bushes, trees, hedges) are also popular and sustainable ways to maintain privacy with a smaller lot. 

Business Conditions Improve 

As the housing market continues to move into recovery, business conditions at residential architecture firms are improving. For the first quarter of 2012, 35 percent of participating residential firms reported that their billings had increased over the fourth quarter of 2011. Residential design firms in all regions of the country reported improved business conditions in the first quarter. [JG: While the survey indicates that mild weather had much to do with this and that second quarter results will be more telling, I’m happy for any good housing news!] 

Source: American Institute of Architects

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