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5 Trends in New Single-Family Homes in the U.S.

The economic recession has created some strong new trends in the way single-family homes are being built and will be built for many years to come.

Many of us under increasing economic pressures have tightened our belts to the last hole. We finally realize that we can actually live just fine, perhaps even better, without that 6,000 square foot home with 5 bedrooms, 6 baths, 2 fireplaces and a 4-car garage. Simplify becomes our mantra and those enormous electric bills and house payments, the baggage we leave behind.

Historically, the recession of the early 1980’s was the the last time single-family homes made a significant change downward in size to coincide with peoples pocketbooks. Today, the same trend is taking place along with several others that may be with us for a long time to come.

So, here they are. The trends in new single-family homes being built today and in the foreseeable future, in no particular order.


Barcelona Model at Marbella Lakes

1. Size–According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), through data collected from the Survey of Construction (SOC) by the Census Bureau’s Manufacturing and Construction Division, the median size of new single-family homes began to decline in 2007, from a peak of 2,268 square feet in 2006 to 2,100 in 2009.

Locally in Naples, FL
In Naples, similar trends prevail. Builders are focusing on smaller, more efficiently designed homes that make maximum use of space. One of the best selling Naples new homes is 2,189 square feet of living area, 3 bedroom plus den (optional 4th bedroom) and 3 bathrooms (pictured, click picture to see homes for sale). This is only slightly larger than the national median single-family size of 2,100 found by the SOC.

2. Garages–Along with shrinking home sizes overall, the number of 3-car garages is also shrinking across the US. Having extra garage space for adult toys like jet skis, four-wheelers or that, mid-life-crisis, Porsche is a luxury that many are doing without.

Locally in Naples, FL
As of today, the Naples MLS shows 53 new homes with 2-car garages for sale that were built in 2010 to 2011 and 62 3+ garage homes of the same age. On the surface, Naples appears to buck the national trend to smaller garages, but of the 62 3+ garage homes only 16 of them are listed under $1 million. Furthermore, when you look at resale home garage sizes, there were only 415 homes with 3-car garages sold this year compared to 1,923 2-car garages.

On the street we are seeing every 4th to 5th buyer requesting a 3-car garage on their new home wish list. Mostly, it’s the man of the house and the woman could care less. In many cases it’s one of the first items on the wish list to fall by the wayside—especially if the woman of the house falls in love with a floor-plan that only has a 2-car garage.

3. Fireplaces–According to the SOC this is another luxury that has been given up by many new home buyers to save a few dollars.

Locally in Naples, FL
Fireplace in Florida–really? Naples has little need for fireplaces, but nonetheless we still see them in many luxury homes. New fireplaces in Collier County cannot be wood-burning, they must be gas. Most luxury homes in the $1 million and up category have a fireplace in the living area and another is often located outside under the covered lanai  (Hawaiian for porch).

Let’s face it, Florida fireplaces are more for ambiance than warmth. My favorite condo in all of Naples, the Sancerre, lights their outdoor fireplace 365 days per year, rain or shine. Once lit, owners and guests have a wonderful view of the flickering fire as they look out past the beach into the moonlit Gulf of Mexico.

4. Porches/Lanais–The data from the SOC also shows the share of new single-family homes with porches has risen while patios and decks have each declined consistently since 2005.

Locally in Naples, FL
We call porches, lanais in Florida. Lanais have always been popular in Southwest Florida. Most Lanais are under the cover of the main roof and open up to the pool deck area. Luxury homes, a million and above, often have elaborate outdoor lanais that look more like a family rooms. They come complete with televisions, retractable screens, fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, bars and dining areas for eight or more.

On the more reasonable end, homes like the Barcelona model (pictured above) have large lanais that wrap around the home. In this case the lanai wraps around in an “L” shape to the breakfast /eat-in kitchen area.

5. Renewable Energy– The  presence of heat pumps and solar panels in new homes is also on the rise. With homeowners trying to keep energy costs down and the incentives for energy efficiency promoted by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, it is no wonder we see this trend increase.

Heat pumps tend to work better in climates with moderate heating and cooling needs as an alternative to furnaces and air conditioners. Solar technology, including solar power / photovoltaic systems, solar water heaters, solar pool heaters and solar lighting, tend to works best in climates with lots of sunny days—like here in the Sunshine State.

Locally in Naples, FL
We’re finally seeing solar panels on new homes in gated communities in Naples. In the past, community by-laws kept homeowners from putting up solar panels, especially if they were visible by a neighbor or from the street. This is a now a relic of the past.

Don’t let a nosy neighbor or homeowners association bully you. They can no longer prohibit you from putting up those space-age panels on your own roof. Florida Statutes 163.04 for Energy Devices Based on Renewable Resources, sometimes referred to at the Florida solar rights act, allows all homeowners to add solar panels to their roof regardless of community restrictions or by-laws.

Many of these trends are here to stay and others will change with the times. Stay tuned and we’ll keep you in the know for the latest building trends for new homes in Naples and around the U.S.

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