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Remaking the American housing model


This post by home improvement expert and Today Show contributor Lou Manfredini was originally published at The Contractor’s Toolbox, Lou’s blog on

Demographic and economic trends are slowly remaking the American housing model of the past 60 years. The post-WWII rush to suburban and then exurban growth is shifting – but like an ocean liner, it will take a long time to turn around.

Still, the signs are there, pointing to opportunity for builders in small-scale development, urban infill and custom building. According to the 2010 Emerging Trends report from global consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers:

“Next-generation projects will orient to infill, urbanizing suburbs and transit-oriented development. Smaller housing units — close to mass transit, work, and 24-hour amenities — gain favor over large houses on big lots at the suburban edge. People will continue to seek greater convenience and want to reduce energy expenses. Shorter commutes and smaller heating bills make up for higher infill real estate costs.”

What does this mean for builders? Craftsmanship, creativity and quality will be in demand. If you’re not familiar with the latest green building techniques and materials, you need to be. Customers will demand it, and you can burnish your credibility and value by becoming the go-to resource for your clients.

The new dream home will have fewer square feet, but higher-quality materials and smarter amenities. Flippers are leaving the market, replaced by buyers who want to invest in a home and a community, not merely trade property.

Learn about quality, energy-efficient products like Integrity windows and doors. Educate yourself — and your clients — about the latest construction techniques. Look for opportunities not at the urban edge, but closer to the action.

The remaking of our housing market offers opportunities for smart builders to create a sustainable business based not on volume, but on quality.