January 25, 2017 | Liz Sacks

2017 is poised to be a record-setting year for the DC metro real estate market, surpassing closings, median sale prices and days on market from 2016.  A driving force behind these figures will be millennial first-time buyers, as they surpass baby boomers as the largest buying demographic.

Photo courtesy of: Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. - High Point Market 2016-2017

While 65% of current home buyers are preferring new construction, McMansions are losing popularity more and more.  For 2016, we saw the first decrease in average home size since 2009, moving from 2,689 to 2,634 square feet. According to Rose Quint of NAHB, “2016 marked the end of an era that began in 2009 when homes got bigger and bigger with more amenities. I expect the size of homes to continue to decline as demand increases from first-time buyers.”

Shifting Space from Inside Out
Many current buyers view larger homes as more maintenance and upkeep than they desire. Where these buyers are desiring a maximized amount of space is in their outdoor living areas.

What tops the list of current outdoor living trends?
– Furniture and appliances for full-service dining and entertaining, such as: brick ovens, fire pits, full dining sets and couches.

– High-tech landscapes with backyard Wi-Fi, a mix of decorative and functional lighting to enhance walkways, gardens and seating areas, and connectivity for TV installation.

– Naturescaping with native plants to attract birds, insects and other forms of wildlife.

– Recreational space for yoga, pilates and meditation.

Sustainability & Environmental Consciousness
Another top priority for current buyers is sustainability. Energy-efficient features like ENERGY STAR® appliances, ceiling fans, programmable thermostats and low-E windows are among the top features buyers are looking for in their new homes. Millennials in particular will gravitate more toward homes constructed with recycled, repurposed and reconstituted materials that create less waste. Many aspire to an eco-friendly lifestyle and habits that facilitate social responsibility.

More Dramatic Contrast
As smart home technology becomes a common fixture in modern households, the rustic contrast of natural materials will be a popular design trend, rustic-tech chic (if you will).  We’ll see wood (more rough-sawn and rustic in aesthetic) on more ceilings and walls, in addition to flooring. Stone, brick and plaster will line more interior walls than we’ve seen in years past.

Another intriguing contrast will be dark finishes on window frames and doors against brightly white cabinetry, wainscoting and natural stone surfaces.

Kitchens Continue to Grow in Purpose
We will continue to see the kitchen expand in design and function as it continues to be a household central meeting place and memory point, not to mention an entertainment hub for guests and an at-home workspace. In addition to the white-on-white cabinetry and breakfast nook trends that have maintained popularity, we’ll see a more adventurous and unlikely mix of fixtures and finishes such as, pewter, white plaster and aluminum. Black stainless steel will also grow in popularity with appliances as many buyers have grown tired of the typical silver.

Baby Boomers, the Sandwich Generation
For baby boomers (or the “sandwich” generation as they are more commonly referred to as of late) homes that accommodate multi-generational families will be in greater demand with the increasing trends in blended families, adult children living with their parents longer and elderly parents moving in at the later stages of their lives.

Multi-Generational Features Topping the List:
– A barrier-free floor to accommodate wheelchairs, walkers and other mobility aids.

– A main level bedroom suite and full bath, as well as, private kitchenettes and exterior entrances.

– An overall balance of private and shared spaces.

– Three car garages and additional driveway space to store the additional family vehicles.

Taking these features into account during the construction and pre-construction stages, can provide an incredible advantage for home builders by representing the deeper lifestyle needs of today’s homeowners.

*New Homes Statistics are provided by NAHB

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