You can study sites like Houzz.com all day long for new home trends, but nothing is more educational than working with clients and getting into a couple hundred new homes over the past year.
That number may not seem like a lot to people who live in a subdivision built by one builder, like a typical Toll Brothers community where the same model is built over and over. But, in my market area, primarily Vienna, McLean and Falls Church, there are a hundred different builders who are all trying to appeal to really smart home buyers.
If you are an out of town consumer then you should also note that these homes can range from $1.3 million to $2.2 million ~ these are not your typical production homes. And virtually all of these new homes are built on lots in established neighborhoods where an older house has been torn down (which can also mean an older rambler may be right next door).
My observations in no particular order…
The Craftsman or Art & Crafts style is still very popular, and that will probably be the case for years to come.
An interesting trend tweaks that look by including some modern accents such as taller windows which break the Craftsman symmetry. These may be located at the landing allowing more sunlight on the stairs or to delineate an office or breakfast nook.
Lifestyle has impacted the main level bathroom. Custom builders seem to have embraced having full baths on the main level located next to the home office. Essentially, the home office can be converted into a bedroom with a private bath in the future.
Kitchens remain strong focal points even for those buyers who aren’t taking cooking classes. (Check out Culinaria and sign up for a class ~ really super!)
Center island work spaces with good lighting from large pendant lights are in virtually all now homes. Those fixtures typically use those “Edison” light bulbs. The island cabinetry is typically a sharp contrast to the other wall cabinetry… like white kitchen cabinetry with an island of mocha cabinets.
A wine fridge in the island is also popular even if it will be filled with juices boxes or cans of Dr. Pepper. What these units do is free up valuable cubic square footage in the main fridge. In my opinion, even a Sub Zero can get full quickly so these are essential.
Functional finished basement space is also a high priority specifically work out rooms with hard floors. The hard floors are preferred since the don’t trap your sweat (and hold in that sweaty room smell).
Whole house media systems typically installed by a third party company during construction is also a hot trend. They can design your media room, provide you with an in-depth video of their installation in your house, and ensure the hub is located where you want it.
Heated bathroom floors will make those winter mornings a more enjoyable. Installed during construction, the heating system lays below the tile floor and is controlled be a simple thermostat. They warm up quickly which is nice.
Bathrooms now have distinct cabinetry to give each a unique look. For example the master may have a distressed gray cabinet while another may be mocha.
Each bedroom has its own full bath.
Laundry rooms aren’t what you show your guests, but most of my clients have typical family lives which involve piles of laundry. So these rooms will have ample space for the machines and a folding area like a tall cabinet, counter and wash sink. Wall cabinets and under cabinet lights make this room efficient.
A second laundry room on the main level off of the mud room. Especially good for keeping sweaty boy stink out of everyone else’s clothes.
Most builders won’t include a deck, but most buyers see it as a necessity especially when it is obvious that the architect included access in the design. Screened-in porches take the deck to a new level and are a hot trend. A little furniture, rug and table and that porch can be a great social spot.
And stairs to a custom patio with an area for a cozy fire-pit ~ perfect for social occasions.
What to expect in the future…
In locations like the Vienna real estate market, new homes continue to be expensive while the resale market for homes built just four or five years ago see a larger gap in pricing.
New home demand remains strong for closer in neighborhoods in McLean, Falls Church or Arlington due to quality of life (influenced by commute times) things such as access to the Metro or walk-ability to stores. Being able to walk your dog is a big factor.
In conversations with a few builders, they seem to be tired of building Craftsman designs and are looking for fresh concepts to distinguish themselves. Although I mentioned that I still see appeal to the Craftsman design and they should not ignore a proven winner, these custom builders may be introducing more innovative hybrids soon.
Again, these observations aren’t in any specific order so I hope this list gave you some insight if you are planning to consider a new home in the area. Although I see and sell homes from many builders, maybe I missed something so shoot me an email and I will add it.
Cheers to 2015!