Top Trends in the Real Estate Marketplace

Real Estate


Judith Sutton ABR CRS IDS PMN ASP IAHSP SRES GREEN     908 803-0472 cell


Interview: Several Coldwell Banker guest speakers talk about markets throughout the US


Boomers Are Rightsizing, Not Downsizing

Perhaps one of the most surprising observations from our gathering was that a significant portion of 50-to-70 year olds are no longer downsizing to condominiums.

Jill Hertzberg, affiliated sales associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in Miami Beach, Florida, said that previously, almost all boomers who contacted her would want to move out of their big house and into a condo. But that’s no longer true.

“A lot of them don’t want condos all of a sudden,” Hertzberg said. “Now, a lot of them are wanting to go to new homes. They want smaller homes, and they want one story, or they want a master downstairs.”
Jade Mills, affiliated sales associate with Coldwell Baker Residential Brokerage in Beverly Hills, said that she is witnessing the same trend. Boomers who used to move to condos in high-rises are opting for smaller single-family homes instead. “Now, a lot of those people are saying, ‘I have five friends in this building, and three friends in this building, and we really would rather be more private, and have a little house. We don’t want to see the people in the lobby every day.’”

“They want to live on one level,” Mills added, noting that additional bedrooms are desired for when the children come home to visit. “They want the master on the same level as the living room.”
In Aspen, Colorado, Carrie Wells, affiliated sales associate with Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate, said the idea of downsizing is not the norm in her market. “We’re seeing equally as many older clients who are wanting larger homes,” she said. “They really want a place where the family can come and convene.”

Elevators, or at least planning for one, are becoming commonplace as well, noted Wendy Lister, affiliated sales associate with Coldwell Banker Bain outside Seattle, Washington. “We used to only have them in the older homes, and now they are either put into the newer homes or they are, as we say, plumbed — a shaft has been created for someone to put one in when they want it.”

Younger Buyers Want Large, Creative Spaces

If what boomers want is somewhat surprising, then what younger buyers are seeking may be no surprise at all. Work, lifestyle and design trends are being established and adopted by younger consumers.

“The newer buyers that are coming in and wanting the ‘white boxes,’ or the more modern contemporary — I’d say they are up to 40 [years old],” Hertzberg said. “They are the ones who are wanting the bigger homes.”
Wells noted that younger buyers with money are enjoying newfound freedom thanks to today’s technology.

“One trend that we’ve been seeing for a number of years is people who can live and work anywhere in the world, and they are uprooting their young families,” Wells said. “People are making lifestyle decisions.”

“Another trend is how taxes in different states affect people’s decisions as far as where their primary residence is,” noted Wells. “For instance, in California, with very high real estate taxes, many of my clients are shifting to Aspen as their primary residence and counting the days they are here. California becomes their second home.”

Laurent Demeure, president of Coldwell Banker France and Monaco, said that younger buyers are seeking to transform nontraditional spaces, such as lofts and artists’ studios.

“Most buyers are in their mid 30's to 40's,” Demeure said. “Buyers have become more sensitive to the French charm and are looking to experience a lavish lifestyle. Buyers have also increased their decision-making time slightly, in order to find the perfect match.”

Bringing the Outdoors In —  And the Indoors Out

Outdoor living is not new as a trend, but our panelists report that today’s high-end homes are incorporating more elements than ever to maximize enjoyment of the outdoor space.

“Our outside area … it used to be the pool, then it was an area to eat,” Hertzberg said. “Now it’s a full living room and dining room outside.”
Lister affirmed that observation, joking about her Seattle location. “You all have sunshine. We have it lots of times, but as you have maybe heard, not always,” she quipped. “So our outdoor living rooms have become absolutely essential. And the really fine homes have two of them — one is covered and one is uncovered.”

Lister said they are normally heated with a fireplace, and include wet bars and barbecues.

It’s A Material World

Often it’s the details that distinguish a nice home from a luxury one, and one of the considerations was the newer materials being used in new construction .

It can be startling, Lister said. “In the finer homes, where you would expect to see marble or certain granites, we’re certainly going back to uses of coppers, stainless steel and materials that people have used in the past. But some of the manufactured products that can be very expensive too.

Mills talked of contemporary glass walls and porcelain floors. “I’ve had people love it, and I’ve had people who have said, ‘Oh my gosh, it is just too much.’” Although our experts noted that not all of the porcelain they are seeing today has the stark white sheen. Porcelain closely resembling whitewashed oak is becoming popular as well.

Hertzberg referenced visiting a listing in Los Angeles with Mills, during which she was caught off guard by a revelation from the builder. “When we went into bathroom, I said, ‘Oh, this is so pretty,’ because I thought it was onyx … and he said, ‘Oh, it’s not onyx, it’s an artificial material that’s made to look like onyx.’” The manufactured onyx look-alike is more expensive than real onyx, and doesn’t stain. The same is true of the “marble” in the kitchen.

Hertzberg noted that back on the East Coast, she deals with clients’ need for constant maintenance of decks and docks, often made of teak. Now, she explained, the plastic composites that look a lot like wood are making life easier. “It has eliminated all that maintenance.”

In Aspen, understandably, Wells reports: “You don’t see super stark, white contemporary homes like you might find at an ocean location.”
“We still see honed marble and black absolute granite in addition to Caesarstone and other manufactured materials,” Wells said. “The trend is for clean lines and soothing color palettes, but not so cold, because many buyers and designers think about the fact that for five months out of the year, the outside is white.”

Wells noted that texture is important, and barn wood siding is popular inside and out. “To have zinc, barn wood siding and stone is a very interesting combination that we see on many modern homes, with barrel vaults and even flat roofs.”

Jana Caudill, sales associate with Coldwell Banker Residential in Naples Florida said:

“I’m seeing more wood in the higher end, but a lot of the condo renovations are using the luxury vinyl tile that looks like wood, but in various colors,”  calling the look “coastal contemporary.”

Closet Space

Many Realtors reported a continued interest in massive his and hers closets. “What they now want is the biggest closet that money can buy and the house can hold,” Lister said.  Especially, hers!

Working — In Tandem — From Home

“It’s very, very important today that you have a space for two offices,” Mills said. “Even people in their 60s and 70s are looking for dual offices,” she said, noting that even if they are just doing charity work, everyone wants their own work space.

For more information on the latest trends or to find out how you might make use of some them in your own home: please contact Judy Sutton                             COLDWELL BANKER:   908 803-0472