Times are changing!

I was meeting with a potential client and a trusted long time client at a breakfast meeting last week. The purpose of the meeting was a standard business introduction, and it caused me to realized I should publish some of the content.  Once we were through learning about our respective work and life experiences, the potential client asked me to weigh in on some trends I have been able to both observe and capitalize upon, especially since the “Remarkable Real Estate Recession”.  The gentleman drove home the point, noting that as a custom builder, it was his observation, that our firm was better suited to change direction much more rapidly, to better serve what customers really want.  Indeed, we feel the same way, and it was nice someone else shared our opinion.  Because we are happy to work from a blank canvass, we are not limited to what we did last year, let alone decades ago, as we often see from some of our competing producers, from home owners attempting their own construction or maintenance, through side job participants to publicly traded firms.
In meeting with our clients today, the following themes are most prevalent, in comparison to projects we worked on in the decade or so prior to the 2008 debacle:
1) Consumers of housing are less interested in large open spaces which seldom get used.
2) Practical space reigns, although casual elegance still carries high marks.
3) Garage spaces are not just for storing stuff, or cars, but are becoming “man cave” space to hang out, or just regain control of the remote.
4) Remember desk areas?  Tablets and laptops have altered the demand here, and where possible, we often incorporate a command center that might be able to be closed off for daily paperwork and paper processing (still happens) takes place.
5) Private outdoor space is important, and becoming more desired as the shift away from large lots is increasing.  Most of our customers do not own a lawn mower, and many may never have even used one!
6) Office space for two or more desks, or workstations is on the “bucket list”.
7) Technology has allowed the pre-wiring concepts to be pulled back down to earth, and we spend significantly less time thinking through the component options as systems have incorporated wireless and “plug and play” ease.
8) Energy efficiency is a given.
9) Water and air quality is discussed more often.
10) As homes are contracting in size, storage and organization of the storage are becoming more important.
11) Elevator options are more commonly discussed.
12) More time is spend on showers than tubs.  Some customers don’t even want a tub.
13) Maintenance free or reduced maintenance products or neighborhoods are making the list more and more.
14) Creative financing and market risk management questions are on the rise.
More to follow.  I hope all of the dads out there had a Happy Father’s Day!
My book recommendation of the month:  “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters”, by Meg Meeker, MD