Sometime last week, I was driving around with a client through a typical suburban neighborhood and I made the comment about a new home for sale that looked huge and overdone.
“That is a classic example of pre-2008 architecture.” What I think I was saying was that its style and presence were from a different era. It was an era that ended as fast and abruptly as any era had ended before, but it was over.
The home was oversized for the lot it was on and it seemed to have every bell and whistle imaginable. It felt like it was an $800,000 home in the old world. Today, I wondered if the builder (or more accurately, their banker) could get $450,000.
The home was built under a completely different set of circumstances and inputs during a time when nothing having to do with money or real estate really mattered. It was built to appeal to the psyche of a nation who felt financially bullet-proof. It was built when pricing was going up so fast that it was hard to overpay. I guess things have changed.
The financial crisis/recession/whatever you want to call it has affected almost everyone in some way. It shook our confidence and made us look inward. It taught us that being long lasting, even if slightly behind the times, was fine. It taught us that a useful life of a product should be longer than 6 months. It taught us to focus on value and quality. It taught us to eschew excess.
But here is the question: Is this shift a permanent one or a temporary one?
As we have begun to emerge from the meltdown of 2008/9, the public voice has changed. The public says ‘we want higher quality, even if it mess doing with less’ and the magazines and experts are predicting ‘craftsman style’ and ‘green’ and ‘the return of the bungalow.’ That all sounds nice, but what is selling is something eerily similar to what was selling before…just for less.
The new housing stock has definitely shifted from larger and loaded-up to either smaller and loaded-up or larger and stripped down. Builders are all re-tooling their product lines to one side or the other. Right now, it appears as if the stripped down big box is winning.
The public seems to be buying as much square footage as they can but without all of the bells and whistles. Saying size doesn’t matter apparently doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter. I guess size provides its own luxury.
So time will tell if there really has been a shift in what we desire or rather these next few years will be just a tapping of the brakes on our quest forward.
What do you think?
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