A recent paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City suggests a coming boom in new housing construction. Stemming in part from the shift to hybrid workforces, builders nationwide may start investing in suburban areas that were once considered too distant from city offices for commuters.
Given the prevailing national housing shortage – in the neighborhood of 3.8 million homes as estimated in 2020 – and lack of affordability exacerbated by rising interest rates, this is a possibility that could help many people find more affordable housing and is long overdue.
Outdated zoning laws and NIMBY-ism have long been a barrier to high-density housing in urban and even some suburban areas. But if throngs of the national workforce are untethered from metro area boundaries, there’s more opportunity for people to have access to housing.
While hybrid workers are helping build the future of housing, everyone from growing families to downsizing retirees can benefit from more abundant, affordable, quality homes. Here are just three of the benefits of having a newly-built home:
Customization at the click of a button
Opendoor found that, for 87% of buyers, the ability to customize a home was the top reason they were interested in one built from scratch. Similarly, 84% highly value “the right layout for their needs.” While this desire for customization may not come as a shock, sometimes it takes the expertise of an agent or a builder to show potential homebuyers how easy and economical the layout and design process has become.
Gone are the days where it took months of planning and blueprint drafting to personalize a home. Today, leading homebuilders such as Pulte enable customers to create their dream layout in a few clicks of a button. And with more opportunity for land in less developed areas, buyers could have even more choice when it comes to buying new construction.
Lose that expensive energy bill
In 2015, more than 70% of U.S. households reported that their home heating systems are five years old or more on average, and nearly 30% reported heating equipment that’s 15 years or older. Further, the average age of over 40% of central air conditioning units in U.S. households was reported as being at least 10 years.
While energy costs typically account for a higher percentage of a household income in rural areas than in urban areas, energy-efficient appliances and other in-home technologies can help take a bite out of that disparity, and builders are well aware of it.
The National Association of Home Builders’ latest edition of What Home Buyers Really Want cited energy-efficient features among the top “must-haves” for today’s buyers. In our research, we found these features to be the No. 2 reason buyers are interested in a new build (88%). Home buyers can expect the latest in home efficiency applications to help keep their energy costs down and reduce environmental impact.
Find a sense of community
The COVID-19 pandemic has already made city dwellers increasingly interested in moving to suburban areas. Those yearning for more space and a sense of small-town community can benefit from the new construction largely taking place in suburban and rural communities.
Homebuilders are responding by incorporating extra amenities into their planning, such as outdoor areas for neighborhood gatherings, larger playgrounds for multi-family use, and recreation facilities for all ages. These types of community-inspired additions are much in demand, and with 86% of buyers valuing a safe, clean neighborhood, it’s clear that a home’s surroundings are just as important as its interior.
As more flexible and hybrid jobs become available, and as new home construction in suburban and rural areas grows, home buyers would do well to understand the new options and benefits they can have with a newly-constructed home.
Derek Schairer is the general manager of Homebuilder Partnerships for Opendoor.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of RealTrends’ editorial department and its owners.
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