AIA study shows preferences for infill location; neighborhood amenities

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A combination of housing market conditions, changing lifestyle preferences and shifting demographics has led to a re-shaping of our communities in recent years.  There has been a move away from automotive-centric locations, along with a strong desire for households to have employment and entertainment options in closer proximity to where they live.  There has also been a preference for lower maintenance and more energy-efficient properties.

Residential architecture firms across the country are reporting improving business conditions, with remodeling activity leading the way followed by some segments of new construction also seeing growth.  These findings are from the American Institute of Architects .  The Home Design Trends Survey for the third quarter of 2012 that focused on community and neighborhood design.

“In many areas, we are seeing more interest in urban infill locations than in remote exurbs, which is having a pronounced shift in neighborhood design elements,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “And regardless of city or suburban dwellers, people are asking more from their communities in terms of access to public transit, walkable areas and close proximity to job centers, retail options and open space.”

AIA Home Design Trends Survey highlights

Community design elements 2012 2011
Infill development 64% 65%
Access to public transportation 59% 47%
Multi-generational housing 50% 44%
Higher density development 50% 38%
Mixed-use developments 45% 37%
Community gardens 41% n/a
Dedicated open space 40% 33%
Popular Home Exteriors Features 2012 2011
Low maintenance exterior materials 70% 68%
Front porches 41% 40%
Sustainable roofing 29% 23%
Windows (number and size) 24% 19%
Contemporary design 23% 10%
Single story homes 17% 24%

Housing market business conditions

AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q3 2012 (any score above 50 is positive)

• Billings: 55

• Inquiries for new projects: 62

Baker noted, “The market for remodeling and alteration projects has been quite strong going back several quarters, but it is encouraging to see positive business conditions for both the move-up and first-time buyer sectors.”

Specific construction segments 2012 2011
Additions / alterations 58% 35%
Kitchen and bath remodeling 51% 37%
Move-up home market 8% -36%
First-time buyer / affordable home market 5% -37%
Custom / luxury home market -0.8% -27%
Townhouse / condo market -8% -35%
Second / vacation home -39% -61%

The AIA Home Design Trend Survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of over 500 architecture firms that concentrate their practice in the residential sector.  Read More.

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