Housing Trend to Watch: The ‘Surban’

Suburban and urban areas are combining to create a new kind of living style known as the “surban.” Many in the real estate industry are predicting it to be one of the hottest housing trends to watch heading into the new year.

A surban offers greater walkability to retail and restaurants from a home or apartment, but in a suburban area. It’s a blend of both suburbia and city life. Previously, urban planners dubbed these areas “mixed-use.”

The Urban Land Institute estimates that surban areas will draw at least 80 percent of new households and attract the most families over the next decade.

Source: “2018 Real Estate Trends to Watch: ‘Surban’—That Sweet Spot Between City and Suburb,” RISMedia (Dec. 4, 2017)

The Top Outdoor Design Element for 2016

Are you highlighting fire pits and outdoor fireplaces? A new survey shows they’re coveted amenities among home shoppers. Architects recently surveyed by the American Society of Landscape Architects pinpointed fireplaces and fire pits as the number one outdoor design element for 2016.

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association say they’ve seen an uptick in the popularity among linear fireplaces – rectangular fireplaces – as well as smokeless fire pits. Linear fireplaces offer a “sleek, modern design” and gas-powered models that can span up to 12-feet wide. Also, electric-powered models that offer multicolor flames are gaining popularity and offer a “sophisticated, contemporary style,” they note.

Fire pits and fireplaces “not only add ambiance to an outdoor space but also provide heat and light that allows you to use your deck later into the evening and into the year,” says designer Kate Campbell with HGTV’s “Decked Out.”

Source: “The Hottest Trend in Outdoor Living? Fireplaces and Firepits,” RISMedia (March 10, 2016)

Multigenerational Households at Record High

A record 57 million Americans – or 18.1 percent of the U.S. population – lived in multigenerational households in 2012, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center of the most recent data available measuring multigenerational households. The rate is up from 17.8 percent in 2011 and has risen dramatically. In 1980, for example, only 12.1 percent of the population lived in multi-generational households.

The trend is mostly being driven by young adults who are living at home, the report notes.

“After three decades of steady but measured growth, the arrangement of having multiple generations together under one roof spiked during the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and has kept on growing in the post-recession period, albeit at a slower pace,” according to Pew’s analysis.

For its analysis, Pew defined multigenerational households as having at least two adult generations, such as a parent and an adult child age 25 or older.

Nearly a quarter of young adults – or 23.6 percent – who are between the ages of 25 to 34 lived in a multigenerational home in 2012. That marks more than double the 11 percent in 1980, according to the Pew analysis. Declining employment and wages of young adults is undercutting their ability to live independently. The generation is also marrying at older rates, staying in school longer, and more ethnically diverse.

Source: “In Post-Recession Era, Young Adults Drive Continuing Rise in Multi-Generational Living,” Pew Research Center (July 17, 2014) and “All in the Family Home: Record 57 Million Americans Living in Multi-Generational Households,” The Wall Street Journal (July 17, 2014)

Bigger Mortgage Rates, Smaller Homes?

As the costs of mortgages get bigger, could the size of homes purchased get smaller?

According to financial Web site The Motley Fool, interest rates and home size are closely tied together. “As interest rates fell in the late 1970s, home sizes grew,” Motley Fool reports. “As rates rocketed in the early 1980s, home sizes contracted. After reaching a peak in the 1980s, mortgage rates have fallen precipitously, and homes have grown in almost every single year since.”

That’s because as mortgage rates rise — as they are now — buyers can afford less. Mortgages at a 5.5 percent annual rate are 12 percent more expensive than at a 4.5 percent rate, Motley Fool notes. If rates climbed up to 6.5 percent — where they were about six years ago — monthly mortgage payments would be nearly 25 percent more costly than a 4.5 percent mortgage rate.

In 1975, the average home built was 1,535 square feet. In 2010, that grew to 2,169 square feet, according to U.S. Census data.

As mortgage rates rise again, buyers who are priced out may be able to still jump in by purchasing a smaller home, according to Motley Fool. Home buyers may be lured to smaller homes constructed 30 or 40 years ago, which could require some remodeling.

Source: “Higher Mortgage Rates Could Revitalize Smaller Home Sales,” The  Motley Fool (Sept. 2, 2013)