New homes allure is neurological

new homes
New homes (infographic from candysdirt.com)

Last week I mentioned that new home sales jumped 18.7 percent year-over-year, which is a ten-year high.  It should come as no surprise that new homes are selling like hotcakes.  After all, existing home inventory has been and remains historically low, which doesn’t give many options to home buyers.  But there are other reasons for the allure of new construction.  Some of the home buyers’ motives are apparent and some are not so obvious.

The idea of buying new construction goes beyond the “new home feel.”  Buyers of new homes are attracted to modern designs and trends that are incorporated into new houses.  New home construction takes advantage of modern building techniques and materials that allow for the open floor-plan concept that many home buyers prefer.  Many of the materials used in new construction are “engineered” for efficiency and longevity.

Buyers of new homes like the feeling that there will be minimal maintenance for the first year.  Everything is brand new and there is sense of confidence that the home’s systems won’t need major repairs or replacement.  Being the first owner of a home also gives assurance that they won’t have to deal with the poor maintenance habits of the previous owner.  This is a plus for home buyers who don’t have a lot of financial reserves to address home maintenance emergencies.  Instead, they can begin to save and budget for future repairs and replacements that should be years down the road.

New home builders take advantage of current trends in green building practices.  Many new home builders tout their LEED certification, demonstrating their commitment to energy efficiency and sustainable resources.  Green building practices are not only used when the home is built, but is actually built into the design.  Home owners seeking LEED certified builders believe they will have a smaller impact on the environment and save money on energy costs.

A new trend that buyers are pursuing is the “healthy home.”  The healthy home concept emphasizes the quality of the air inside the home.  Home buyers are becoming aware of the physical and environmental benefits of good indoor air quality, which can improve their emotional well-being and reduce the potential for respiratory distress.

But there is another reason why home buyers are attracted to new homes, and it lies within the brain.  Research has demonstrated time and again that consumers respond to novelty.  This means that home buyers have a tendency to want “new.”  This can be interpreted into making an old home new by renovating a kitchen, bathroom, etc.  Or it can mean buying a newly built home.

new homes
the desire for new homes may start with the limbic system (infographic from success-mohawk.com)

The novelty seeking behavior of the home buyer isn’t just a choice, as some may argue, it’s neurological.  Basically, the desire for a new home lies within the brain.  A study conducted by Nico Bunzeck and Emrah Düzel (Absolute Coding of Stimulus Novelty in the Human Substantia Nigra/VTA; 2006; Neuron 51, 369-379) demonstrated that the hippocampal region of the brain responds to novel (new) stimuli.  The hippocampal region is part of the limbic system, which is noted for being responsible for memory and emotions.  It has also been associated with motivation.

The study also discusses the idea that novelty seeking behavior isn’t just emotional, but it is also rewarding.  This means that there is a behavioral loop for seeking new things, including buying a new home.

Home sellers need to take note of these findings.  Translating this study to home buyers may mean that a home’s feeling of “newness” is important, regardless if it’s construction, renovation, or even how the home is decorated.  Understanding what attracts and motivates home buyers can be the tipping point to get a home sold.

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2017/12/08/new-homes-allure-neurological/

Copyright© Dan Krell
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3D printed homes

3D printed homes
3D printed home building

Imagine a time when you can print a new door knob, a sink trap, a cabinet, or any other house component right in your home.  That time is rapidly approaching, thanks to 3D printing technology.  3D printed homes may be your house of the future.

When Sean Mashian recently wrote about the potential of 3D printing technology (The impact of 3D printing on real estate; Cornell Real Estate Review; 2017. 15, p64-65.), he was correct to say that the technology has the potential to change the home construction industry.  3D printing may also be the ultimate affordable housing solution, printing on demand homes and apartments at a fraction of stick-built homes.

Mashian stated:

Currently, 3D printing is most often used in the real estate industry as a way of creating scale models for new developments. As the technology grows and becomes more commonplace, there may be huge changes coming to real estate from this emerging technology…Right now, 3D printing is expensive and still in rudimentary stages. As we learned from the explosion of e-commerce just a decade ago however, a rapidly growing trend can quickly become a way of life. If 3D printing continues its swift rise to prominence, real estate will change and well positioned assets stand to benefit.

But 3D printing is already making an impact on housing design and construction, as Eric Schimelpfenig wrote in 2013 (Design and the 3D Printing Revolution; Kitchen & Bath Design News; 2013, p20).  He talked about one New York company that was already manufacturing personalized 3D printed bathroom fixtures.  Besides custom faucets, 3D printing tech will also bring us on-demand custom cabinets and other fixtures too.  Schimelpfenig said, “that future isn’t far away… and it’s going to be awesome.

Schimelpfenig’s future is unfolding before us as 3D printing technology is rapidly advancing.  The technology has come a long way since the first 3D printer was created by Charles Hull in 1983.  Originally, 3D printing was used for 3D modeling.  As the technology become cheaper and widely available, 3D printed modeling become a hit with hobbyists.  However, the potential in commercial applications didn’t really make strides until the turn of the century.

Although, 3D printing is not yet widely used in home construction, there are companies already 3D printing entire homes.  Apis Cor (apis-cor.com) not only builds 3D printed homes, but claims to be the first company to develop a mobile construction 3D printer capable of printing an entire building completely on site.

We are the first company to develop a mobile construction 3D printer which is capable of printing whole buildings completely on site.
Also we are people. Engineers, managers, builders and inventors sharing one common idea – to change the construction industry so that millions of people will have an opportunity to improve their living conditions.

Apis Cor 3D printed a home in Russia last December in 24 hours.  The one level home was rudimentary, and had 38 square meters (about 409 square feet) of living space.  But this was a demonstration of the flexibility of the 3D printing technology.  The endeavor not only showed how a home can be 3D printed on site, but that it can also be done in the cold of winter.  The company claims that 3D printed homes can be any shape, and designs are only restricted by the laws of physics.

Apis Cor states that 3D printed homes can also cost less because an onsite 3D printer “frees up resources.” Construction costs are lower because there is a cost reduction in labor, construction waste disposal, construction machinery rentals, tools, and finishings.  They claim that one 3D printer “can replace a whole team of construction workers, saving time without loss of quality.”

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2017/09/03/3d-printed-homes/

Copyright© Dan Krell
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Trendy is not for home staging

interior designDeparting from the safety of natural materials and earth tones, big and bold interior design has become popular this year. Many designers have talked about 2014 as the year of using bright colors, brass and other yellow metals throughout the house. But if you’re selling your home, tread cautiously– because trendy may not be the best choices for staging your listed home.

Kelly Walters of HGTV (Color Trends: What’s New, What’s Next?; hgtv.com) talked about color use in the home, over the last ten years, being a reflection of our need for safety after 9/11 and the Great Recession. However, this is the year for change, and it’s reflected in the colors we choose for our interiors. A palette of gray hues is replacing the use of browns as the favorite neutral color; while reds, pinks, and violets are trending in popularity.

Using brass throughout the house has been the buzz during 2014. Kate Watson-Smyth reported the popularity of brass (Why brass is back as the new must-have metal for home décor; Financial Times, January 24, 2014; ft.com) as being a trend moving away from shine towards warmer tones. The use of brass and similar metals has also expanded from stylish bathroom finishes and hardware to fixtures as well as furniture.

Remember wallpaper? It’s back! Realtor® Magazine’s Barbara Ballinger wrote about how wallpaper has made a comeback. Relegated to accents, wallpaper is once again acceptable as wall covers (Wallpaper: Back in the Game; Realtor® Magazine, October 2014; realtormag.realtor.org). The new generation of wallpapers are eco-friendly and easier to use; inks are typically water based, while many papers are designed as “peel and stick” to be easily removed and reused.

Kitchens are important to many of us, and what could be better for the home chef than their own hydroponic garden. On her blog The Entertaining House, Jessica Ryan (jessicagordonryan.com) describes the Chef’s Garden Wall hydroponic system, “Fresh is the new green.” Because some kitchen hydroponic systems are low maintenance, you don’t necessarily have to be a gardener to have fresh greens at your finger tips all year.

Although trendy interior design may seem modern and stylish, it may not be the best choices when selling your home. Melissa Tracey wrote in her Home Trends Blog (5 Design Trends You May Want to Avoid in Staging; August 11, 2014; blogs.realtor.org), “Staging in trendy fabrics, colors, and finishes may offer up buyers a feeling that the home is up-to-date and move-in-ready. But getting too trendy can also backfire, particularly if it’s too personalized.”

And about those interior design trends I listed above? Tracey says to “steer clear.” Although wallpaper may be a tempting and easy way to brighten up a room, she says to stick with paint because wallpaper may interfere with a buyers’ vision of living in the room. And when painting, she says that trendy colors may be “too bold” for buyers; sellers should stick with neutral colors, using bolder colors as accents (such as pillows, rugs, and lamps). And although many designers are going all in on brass, it’s best to use it sparingly as accents when staging your home. The trend toward doorless kitchen cabinets is to be avoided, because buyers will undoubtedly ask “Where are the doors?” And finally, Tracey points out that the highly popular Tuscan and French Provincial themes are giving way to transitional and contemporary styles.

© Dan Krell
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Home designs for multigenerational families under one roof

For Sale“Wait long enough and it will come back in style” is a saying that typically applies to clothing styles and fashion. And unlike fashion trends, which typically relies on pop culture, fads, and a designer’s vision; home design trends are more practical and rely on changing life styles, advances in building technologies, and the development and/or use of new construction materials.

Although the idea of extended family living under one roof has not been commonplace for decades, multigenerational life styles have been trending in recent years. And this year, there was a surge in the demand of multigenerational home designs.

Consider a Pew Research Center analysis, as reported by Sally Abrahms in the AARP Bulletin (3 Generations Under One Roof, April 2013; aarp.org), that indicated multigenerational households increased 10.5 percent (which is about 16.7 percent of the U.S. population) between 2007 and 2009. She also cited a 2012 survey by the Pulte Group, that indicated about 32 percent of adult children plan to live with their parents.

Such surveys make sense, if you consider that our population is increasingly aging. And as long term care costs are increasing, there is growing pressure on adult children to take care of their parents during their waning years and declining health (as was once expected decades ago). Consider the cost of long term care as reported by Genworth Financial (genworth.com): the 2014 Maryland median cost of a private one bedroom accommodation in an assisted living facility is $40,800 per year; while the 2014 Maryland median cost for a semi-private room in a nursing home is $98,368 per year.

Besides the rising aging population, Abrahms also pointed out that multigenerational living is also due to the return of young adults to their parents’ homes. Also known as the “boomerang generation,” many pay rent and contribute to housing costs. About 75% of young adults aged 25-34 moved back with parents; as well 61% of young adults aged 25-34 who know of friends or family who moved back with parents due to lack of living arrangements, lack of money, and/or lack of employment.

In the past, the extended families that lived under one roof had little choice but to make the best use of a home typically designed for one family. However, home builders have taken notice of the trend in multigenerational households and have responded. Amy Taxin, of the Associated Press, reported (The family that stays together: Homebuilders are making room for more multigenerational households; Associated Press – The Washington Times, April 16, 2012) that builders are offering single family home designs with “…semi-independent suites with separate entries, bathrooms and kitchenettes. Some suites even include their own laundry areas and outdoor patios for additional privacy, though they maintain a connection to the main house through an inside door.

Taxin pointed out multigenerational housing options, which includes: Lennar Corp, which offered a 3,400 square foot home in the Las Vegas area that contained 700 square foot suites; and Standard Pacific Homes that rolled out the “casitas” idea which is independent living areas attached to the main house.

After many decades of the “break-away” family, a number of socio-economic factors have come together to bring about the reintegration of the extended family under one roof. The idea that multigenerational living is once again popular has created a new niche and trend for home builders and architects.

© Dan Krell
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

The pros and cons of smart home tech

home techDecades of futurists dreamed about and designed their vision of a “smart home” intended to make living easier and more comfortable.  The 1933 World’s Fair envisioned that all homes would have helicopter pads; the 1962 World’s Fair highlights an electronic central brain in the home; the 1964 World’s Fair was about computerizing the home with time saving appliances.  And of course, who can forget Disney’s “House of Tomorrow?”

Retro-futurism seems almost cartoonish today, much like watching an episode of the Jetson’s.  However, like the retro-futuristic home, today’s smart home is meant to make life easier.  Filled with devices and appliances that are connected to the internet, remote access to your home’s systems and appliances is becoming increasingly commonplace.  There is an increasing ability for you to control your home, even when you are not there.  You can remotely monitor cameras in your home, change thermostat settings, and even program the DVR.

Realtor Magazine (Homes Are Getting Smarter, More Connected; January 09, 2014) reported that smart home tech is a growing sector showcased at the annual Consumer Electronics Show.  Besides the growing number of devices that can be remotely controlled, there is also a trend for appliances to send text messages and email.  Although smart home technology today is about producing individual gadgets that are programmable and controlled by smart phone apps, it appears that there is a trend toward integrating devices as well.  As smart home technology advances, home appliances and systems will be integrated with each other allowing them to communicate with each other; which expected to make the home function more efficiently.

All this technology is great, but there appears to be a downside as well.  Although there have been warnings about hacking smart home devices for a number of years, the recent report of hacked smart refrigerators that sent spam has attracted and focused attention on the hackers’ ability to take control of a smart home (phys.org/news/2014-01-cyberattack-hacked-refrigerator.html).  A Forbes article published July 2013 (When ‘Smart Homes’ Get Hacked: I Haunted A Complete Stranger’s House Via The Internet) discussed the ease of identifying and gaining access to smart home devices via the internet. Security specialist indicated that they were able to access and control smart devices (such as lighting, thermostats, garage doors, and security systems); more importantly, they were able to access personal data (including names) and device IP addresses from these devices as well.  The consensus among security specialists about protection from such intrusions is to basically stay “unplugged.”

While we wait for the perfect smart home, we can continue dreaming of the home of the future.  “1999 A.D.” (A 1967 Ford-Philco production; the video featuring Wink Martindale is posted above) is one of the best retro-future depictions of a home that incorporates technology considered to be state-of-the-art by today’s standards, as well as technology that we have yet to perfect.  Central to the home is a computer that collects and maintains information from all home devices, including biometric data that is sent to the medical center for analysis.  3D television, a “home post office” (email), push button meals, and shopping from a home computer is standard in this home.  As technology advances, there seems to be a post-modern sentiment exclaimed in the video that may ring true, “…if the computerized life extracts a pound of flesh, it has some interesting rewards…”

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2014/03/14/the-pros-and-cons-of-smart-home-tech/

by Dan Krell ©
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. This article was originally published the week of March 10, 2014 (Montgomery County Sentinel). Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © Dan Krell.