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The trend of optimizing, not downsizing American homes

What can a few hours at an open house tell you about buyer trends in America? Quite a bit, especially when you’re listening for commonalities that extend beyond generational divides.

Quick little market study

Hosting my open house today, I had over thirty folks come through my 2/2 condo listing that was just under 900sf and these folks came in all stages of home buying savvy. I found each and every one of them mesmerizing. Let me tell you about my own little market study that occured in the confines of the open house. Of course, all of this information was filtering through my own mind, and not at all discussed with them, but it was interesting nonetheless to hear why these folks wanted to be in the area and in a home of this specific size.

The Millennial

There was a gentleman who was a Millennial, looking to use the iRealtor program and grilling me for market answers, which I was happy to give; he wanted to be close to Metro and simplify his life. “I just want to be able to get into work really easily and not necessarily have to drive. I get a deeded car space here, right?”

Gen X pairs

There were the couple of pairs of GenXers (possibly Y’ers) who plowed through with their agents – already knowing all of the general area information and really not wanting to have any hands on from the lonely hosting listing agent until they were needed for the real specifics- but I’ll have you know that when I am doing marketing, I am all ears, baby. “OMG, it would be totally easy to get to Whole Foods from here,” says one Xer to the other. “Totally, and the Metro is like right there.” Disco. Simplification.

The Boomers

Then there were the several boomers who came in, some looking for investment potential, but others, these others, they were the ones who were quite interesting. These boomers who were so interesting were the ones who mentioned outright – I am looking to downsize. “Hi. I am looking to downsize. I have a 5 bedroom 3 bath home that my wife and I only use 2 rooms out of. We need to fix that.”

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What does this mean, downsize? It means to take your larger than life- well, life- and simplify things. My boomer buddy answered it for us, you take your 3500sf home with a yard and realize that you only actually live in 800sf of it sometimes. Yeah, downsizing. I like to help people simplify things, I’m all about that. The interesting thing is that no matter what stage of life we’re in, we’re all looking to do it.

The shift in American housing

Did you know that last month our buddies, the builders, had their Showcase for the National Association of Builders in Orlando? The home that was the featured showcase “which measure[d] 4,181 square feet and is one of the smallest in the popular program’s 29-year history, shows that the love affair with McMansions seems to be waning.”

It is an exciting thing to hear for sure, to see builders taking things in this direction, especially as an EcoBroker Realtor who spends time discussing things like energy efficiency, smart design and even cost of living with clients.

Even energy efficiency gurus such as the Northern Virginia Mainstay, the Green Gobbler makes mention in a recent article, “Realtors probably could have told you that a couple of years ago, as the McMansions started to tick off area homeowners who were feeling that the over-sized homes were changing the look and feel of older, established neighborhoods and 5,ooo square feet for 2 people just seemed overly opulent. Now, as we see more folks, especially the baby boomers tackling the issue of downsizing and eliminating the minutia from their lives, we see people going back to houses that make sense for the way folks tend to live in their home. People seem to just want to be able to manage their homes and not have a whole section of a house shut off that they realize that they don’t even use. That is just depressing! Plus, when you have a smaller scale home, you have less bills for utilities, now, don’t you? Hmmm…. now that just seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?” Well put, Gobbler! I like how you think, friend.

Optimizing home sizes for all demographics

Saying all of this doesn’t mean that everyone needs to stop building huge houses. It just means that a thoughtfulness can be put into the functionality of space. A simplified lifestyle can come to anyone at any time is what was observed today. It isn’t so much downsizing, but optimizing and helping a client find a home that is going to fit the functionality of how they live once they are in their home and help them simplify their lifestyle by helping them achieve that by listening to what they want and then helping them become a home owner – no matter what stage of life they are in.

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Written By

Genevieve Concannon is one of those multifaceted individuals who brings business savvy, creativity and conscientiousness to the table in real estate and social media.  Genevieve takes marketing and sustainability in a fresh direction- cultivating some fun and funky grass roots branding and marketing strategies that set her and Arbour Realtyapart from the masses. Always herself and ready to help others understand sustainability in building a home or a business, Genevieve brings a new way to look at marketing yourself in the world of real estate and green building- because she's lived it and breathed it and played in the sand piles with the big-boys.  If you weren't aware, Genevieve is a sustainability nerd, a ghost writer and the event hostess with the mostess in NoVa. 

35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Bob Ostrow

    March 26, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Interesting concept. I think people believe they’re right-sizing at every phase. However, there are times when people wrong-size themselves into a house. Any time you can see 5 years down the road, ie, having more kids, parents moving in or out, and you don’t take into consideration, you’re wrong-sized. Of course, there are always unforeseeable circumstances that can effect this.

    • Genevieve

      March 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm

      You’re totally right, Bob! The interesting thing is that some people seem to have had a little bit of a perspective change on how much space they actually need, which is interesting to watch- like being a fly on a wall when the light-bulb moment happens. Thanks so much for the comment!

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