Insights and Application from the 2021 International Builder’s Show

Insights and
Application from the 2021 International Builder’s Show (virtual)

      Last week, I had the tremendous
opportunity to attend the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
International Builder’s Show (IBSx) . Packed full of educational sessions, this
platform provided valuable insights into what’s trending and what’s ahead in
the real estate, building and design industry, particularly post-pandemic or as
one speaker called it, “The Great Disruption.”


       Certainly, the overwhelming
consensus among speakers and presenters was that the building industry is
experiencing unprecedented demand, given that the real estate market has its
lowest inventory since it began being measured in the early 1980’s. There are
fewer than one million listings nationwide. Correspondingly, builders have very
little inventory to offer prospective buyers and are struggling to keep up with
demand. Building costs are also up and home prices have risen 10% in the last
year. What does all this mean and how can we learn from the market and the post
pandemic pivots in the design and building industry?


Perhaps most fascinating is the
demographic of the typical buyer in today’s market. The highest percentage of home
buyers right now are 30 years old. These millennials are searching for homes in
suburban areas, with lower density and costs of living. As they begin to start
families, they want homes with green spaces and good schools. They are
departing from high density areas so they can raise children in non-urban
settings. What this means is that outgrowth in suburban areas will increase
with new developments to absorb demand.

 Furthermore, in 2018, 41% of
millennials made offers on houses without even seeing them! This reinforces my previous
blog posts that online photography is EVERYTHING! Along with photography,
virtual tours like Matterport® are also critical to captivating this
demographic, especially now that shopping at home (even for houses) is a part
of our daily existence. For sellers, this is a lesson in listening to your
Realtor® and their staging partner in having a home well styled and professionally
staged. One image could spell the difference between getting an offer or not.
With the click of a mouse, buyers can move onto the next property without a
second glance. Homeowners should be highly focused on details, leaving nothing
to chance.

One last item of note: second home
purchases are up 23%. Opportunities to live and work remotely along with lower
interest rates have provided a ripe season of alternative home purchases, which
can be used as income-producing short-term rentals or alternative seasonal


      In the design world, the pandemic
has shifted how we live and work, enabling our design focus to be on working
and learning from home, health and sanitation, color, as well as smart home
technology and efficiency. Examples of this include inserting learning alcoves
for home school conversions of guest spaces to exercise rooms and home offices.
Homeowners are finding new uses for niches and odd spaces in order to make room
for everyone working and learning from home.

 Additionally, the mudroom is now
the “everyday entry” and includes the term “drop zone” is dead, given that
backpacks and laptop bags are no longer dropped, but work and school are a part
of the everyday home. Formerly rarely used guest rooms now take on new
functions for secondary entertaining, work out rooms, homework rooms and
 Food delivery stations now
occupy the front door

 The fresh white paint color palette
that was the rage only a year ago is now being supplemented with colorful
accent walls in order to add interest and visual stimulation in lieu of staring
at four white walls. Storage has also become a valuable component of home
design as more room is needed for our less frequent but more productive grocery
trips and Costco® adventures. We are bringing the outside world in. Green
design and solar energy are also growing in importance with zero-based energy
homes, eco-friendly comfort zones for heating and air conditioning, and smart
home air monitoring for clean air solutions.


      While the pandemic may soon be
behind us, the rapid changes in both real estate, building, and design are here
for the long haul. The new normal is semi-permanent and the shifts we have made
reflect the ongoing need for fluidity and flexibility. Builders and designers
have adapted in a myriad of ways to the new demands and needs of our cultural
crisis and will continue to do so with innovation and creativity.

Lorelie Brown, M.A., CPRES, CID is the Owner of Showhomes Charleston in Charleston, SC.  RESA-PRO member, an HSRA-Elite Member and part of HSRA Elite Leadership. She is passionate about the power of home staging and has staged over $300 million in real estate.