Housing downturn results in demand for more infill and high-density development

December 14, 2009 |

Washington, D.C. – December 14, 2009 – Consumer preferences for community design that once preferred suburban and rural areans removed from metropolitan hubs is moving increasingly toward infill sites that have greater access to public transportation options. Mixed-use developments focused around density are being favored in some cases over traditional neighborhood design with homes close to the street, sidewalks and smaller lots. These types of developments are still gaining in popularity, but at a slower rate than recent years most likely as the result of the overall economic challenges. Home exteriors with durability and low maintenance are also proving to be more popular in recent years. 
 Billings at residential architecture firms remain weak, but remodeling activity showing an improvement. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the third quarter of 2009 that focused on community and neighborhood design. “There is an extremely high level of inventories of unsold homes due to the prolonged downturn in the housing market,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “That element and the fact that home energy and transportation costs have risen in recent years has people rethinking living options. Demand for homes in urban centers with greater access to transportation, retail, commercial and employers has a tremendous appeal.” Design strategy tailored towards access to public transportation and job centers helps reduce sprawl, dependence on automobiles, encourages sustainability and creates an overall more vibrant and healthy community. AIA Home Design Trends Survey highlights 

Popular Home Exteriors Features
Durable exterior materials 75%                             73%
Sustainable roofing     47%                             62%
Porches                       53%                 46%
Windows (number and size) 26%                 33%
Tubular skylights         24%                 n/a
Green roofs                 21%                             n/a

 (% respond. report. popularity of feature “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q3) Housing market business conditions The residential market continues to struggle. The national billings index was 38 for the third quarter of 2008 (any score below 50 indicates a decline in activity), the same as the previous quarter’s mark of 38. Inquiries for new projects are 47 for the second consecutive quarter, but encouraging compared to the score of 35 in the first quarter of the year. 

Specific construction segments                   

Additions / alterations            27%                 13%
Kitchen and bath remodeling                 26%                 8%
First-time buyer / affordable home market                         -2%                  -64%
Move-up home market -29%                            -57%
Townhouse / condo market -43%                -49%
Custom / luxury home market                         -48%                -30%
Second / vacation home -70%                -66%

 (% of respondents reporting sector “improving” minus % reporting “weakening”; Q3)

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