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Solid Trends to Build On


by Lou Manfredini

This post originally appeared on the Contractor’s Tool Box blog on

Some trends are timeless – or at least, as timeless as anything can be in a rapidly changing world. I’ve been looking at a lot of research on the housing market, from both before and after the downturn, picking out the ideas that have held true in both good times and bad.

And it’s been encouraging to see that there are some nuggets of wisdom that can guide a builder to success, no matter what the market is like. Let’s look at a few of these guideposts.

Green is a winner. Americans see the value of building green. Whether they’re motivated by saving money or doing something for the planet, research consistently shows that Americans want greener options for their homes. That can range from energy-efficient windows to geothermal heating and everything in between. Builders and remodelers who are knowledgeable about energy-efficient products and building techniques will have an edge.

Remodeling is a bright spot. I’ve written in the past about the relative strength of the remodeling market; the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies agrees with me (PDF). Factors in favor of remodeling include a less-mobile population, the need to upgrade aging rental stock and the increasing demand for green remodeling solutions.

An aging population has special needs. With the Baby Boomers hitting retirement age, and all Americans living longer than ever, a focus on the needs of an aging population can pay off. First-floor bedrooms and baths; easy-operating windows; low-profile sills; wider doorways – these and other relatively easy items can make a big difference in meeting the needs of a key customer group.

Meanwhile, a large youth cohort is hitting homebuying age. The so-called “echo boom” generation – children of Baby Boomers, born between 1981 and 1990 – is reaching the first-time homebuyer age. These young buyers form the largest demographic group since the Boomers – and they will want green features, high quality and manageable sized layouts. They also grew up with technology and are not afraid of it. So this group more than any will be looking for high tech features in their homes.

These are just a few of the trends that will shape the housing market in the coming years. Got any to add?