A home is the nucleus of a person’s life. First thing you see when you wake up, last thing you see before you fall asleep. True, we spend much of our 24 hours at work, sleeping (if we’re lucky) or tackling our to-do lists, but our home is the center of it all.
So what will our homes look like in the next 5, 10, 15 years? I spent some time at the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas and learned that the macrotrends of connectivity and big data have already started to trickle down into the residential housing market. Let’s take a look at some interesting trends:
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The numbers are very compelling, but here are a few key takeaways to bring some context to these figures:
- Unemployment. The unemployment rate is down (yippee!), but what you may not see in that percentage is that part-time employment has risen. What does that mean? It means that people have found a way to make ends meet by stringing together part-time work, but they’re nowhere near confident in making a down payment on a house – hence the slow-moving housing starts.
- Millennials are misunderstood. I’m a Millennial myself, so I can say firsthand that the rumors about us are not always true. For instance, the perception is that Millennials prefer more compact, urban lifestyles, but the data tells a different story. They’re currently a victim of circumstance, weighted by debt, so city dwelling is the best option for them for the moment. But they still aspire to own land and settle into a single-family home.
- Laundry rooms are the new kitchen. We’ve been hearing for years that the kitchen is the new living room. It’s become the most desired space – best for entertaining, exploring cooking-related hobbies and bringing families together. But now, we’re seeing a shift in focus to laundry rooms. Why? Because no one likes to do laundry. The home of the future will make the chore of cleaning clothes easy as pie to give homeowners time back in their day to do the things they love.
- Connected adoption. I wrote about this early during my time at Design & Construction Week – that I was surprised at how little home automation and “smart” solutions were being showcased on the show floor. The truth is that there’s a gap. Millennials are early adopters and have expressed the desire for a connected home – but we know they’re not the ones purchasing homes just yet. It’s Generation X and Baby Boomers who hold the keys right now, and some of them are still clinging to their flip phones.
So what’s the big takeaway? We’re becoming “smarter”. Homes are becoming more connected. But it’s a slow and steady process of adoption. The housing market is tough to shove, but it’s being gently rocked in a few different directions to better meet the needs of today’s homeowner – and maybe more importantly, the homebuyer of the future.
What resonates most with me is that despite the disruptions and noise and clutter, we’re still putting the consumer first. We’re listening to trends and customizing wherever we can to accommodate the “must-haves” and the “nice-to-haves”. Of course, now my curiosity is piqued and I’m already looking forward to seeing how these trends and data sets shift as we move closer to 2020. See, numbers can be fun!
Amanda Vasil is Change Agent at AKHIA.