2019 Homebuilder Forecast

The homes styles, designs, and other details to focus on in the new year

By KIM AMBROSE and PATTI WYNKOOP

In 2019, we will see several home styles with staying power, a few fresh designs that are sure to dominate, plus a brand new generation of homebuyers now on deck. Here are six of the biggest home trends to watch next year:

Customization ≠ Complicated

Today’s consumer often bypasses mass-produced commodities in exchange for artisan products, fixtures, and features. Thanks to the HGTV phenomenon and saturation of home improvement shows, many buyers expect luxe features, such as hardwoods on every floor, and granite or quartz countertops, to come standard at all price points. While the price tag of such features is above the norm, consumers crave customization and want to put their individual stamp on their home’s design. More importantly, today’s buyer wants customization to be a simplified and seamless process. Finding the balance in offering custom options, and providing a simplified process for doing so, allows homebuyers to add personal touches to their home without the extra stress of sifting through seemingly endless choices.

Up is Out and Out is In

Whether you are a Baby Boomer or a millennial, open floor plans still reign supreme with less formal home spaces giving way to comfort being king next year. However, an aging market is shying away from using the stairs for access to outdoor rooftop terrace options. In the mid-Atlantic markets, we will see homebuyers gravitate toward three-season, outdoor entertainment spaces on the main level to include screened-in porches and decks.

Bold, Gold, Bright, and Light in 2019

While whitewashed minimalism had its moment in 2018, artisan colors and creativity in materials will set homes apart in 2019. Bold, colored cabinets will take hold next year along with a more eclectic, transitional style in interior design. Many are rethinking traditional and bridging the gap between old and new. Metallics like gold, bronze, and chrome are also making a comeback as designers mirror today’s jewelry fashion trends in mixing metals. Hardwood flooring is set to evolve in 2019 with lighter, more natural colors ebbing out the once-popular espresso shades. Additionally, engineered vinyl plank flooring is gaining market acceptance from entry-level to luxury homebuyers with its durability and realistic hardwood look and feel.

Gen Z is On Deck

Millennials have taken the main stage as one of the largest homebuyer cohorts, but experts anticipate Generation Z (GenZ) is now waiting in the wings. The growing cohort is not expected to enter the homebuyer market for another five years. However, many are monitoring the buying behaviors and preferences of GenZ before they enter the housing market in full force. Here is what we know: GenZ is even more adept with technology, meaning technological home integration will be an essential ingredient for successful product lines. Advertising and the process of home buying will be more focused on digital interfaces, rather than face-to-face interactions with a sales team. Lastly, GenZ is known to rely heavily on the advice of their Baby Boomer and GenX parents; many anticipate such cohorts will continue involvement in GenZ’s home buying purchase decisions.

For 2019, homebuilders will continue focusing on millennials as they get married, have children, and move from renting to buying their first homes. Many millennials have significant incomes to afford homes but lack the savings for a down payment. Financing education is key to this group in addition to supporting the latest technology and gadgets.

Flexibility is Key

Moving into 2019, homebuyers desire flexibility above all else in home design and in their schedules. Consumers are turning to floor plans that allow plug and play for different concepts while accommodating multiple life and family stages. Today’s buyer also wants more flexibility on when they can visit model homes. They are looking for builders to fit their busy schedules rather than the other way around. Some builders, including Miller & Smith, are considering programs and technology that allow potential buyers to visit models anytime outside of the “manned hours” of 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. “Unmanned Model Visits” would involve installing cameras for security and collecting buyer identification and credit card information in exchange for a key code to open the door to the model.

New is Now

While the charm of an older home is often enticing, the need for evolving technology, durability in design, and desire for home automation and connectivity points to new builds as the superior investment for overall cost-effectiveness, energy efficiency, and longevity. A new home purchase sets up a buyer for cost-effective tech adaptation and accessibility for all stages of life, including evergreen design and prime locations that are rapidly improving with transportation hubs and mixed-use retail.

Kim Ambrose is the Vice President of Marketing for Miller & Smith. Patti Wynkoop is the Vice President of Product Development for Miller & Smith. For more information, please visit www.millerandsmith.com

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