Continued Demand for Homes in Infill Development Projects with Established Infrastructure


Residential design favors simplicity and durability

Washington, D.C. – December 6, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — In recent years, there has been a definitive shift away from large residential subdivisions towards smaller scale infill development projects with a greater emphasis on affordability, access to public transportation, commercial opportunities and job centers. Amid continued concerns about over housing affordability, home styles have become simpler with low maintenance, durable building materials.

Residential architecture firms continue to report weak business conditions, with remodeling activity one of the few bright lights for residential design activity. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the third quarter of 2011 that focused on community and neighborhood design.

“On the development side, low levels of new home construction, steep foreclosure rates and a surge in the popularity of urban living are the primary reasons for high levels of infill projects,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “From a home design perspective the preference is for building materials such as fiber-cement, stone, tile or natural earth plasters that are durable and require little maintenance.”

AIA Home Design Trends Survey highlights

Community design elements 2011 2010
Infill development 65% 65%
Access to public transportation 47% 58%
Multi-generational housing 44% 53%
Higher density development 38% 39%
Traditional neighborhood design 47% 41%
Mixed-use developments 37% 53%
Access to commercial facilities 36% 37%
Popular Home Exteriors Features 2011 2010
Durable exterior materials 68% 75%
Front porches 40% 57%
Simple exterior details 28% 16%
Single story home 24% 26%
Sustainable roofing 23% 52%
Solar reflective roofs 21% 39%
Tubular skylights 15% 30%
Contemporary design 10% 11%

(% respond. report. popularity of feature “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q3)

Housing market business conditions

The residential market continues to struggle. The national home design billings index was 45 for the third quarter of 2011 (any score below 50 indicates a decline in activity), down from the previous quarter’s mark of 50, although scores are not adjusted for seasonal variation. Inquiries for new projects were 52, dropping slightly compared to the score of 54 in the second quarter of the year.

Specific construction segments 2011 2010
Kitchen and bath remodeling 37% 43%
Additions / alterations 35% 42%
First-time buyer / affordable home market -37% -35%
Move-up home market -36% -34%
Townhouse / condo market -35% -39%
Custom / luxury home market -27% -43%
Second / vacation home -61% -65%

(% of respondents reporting sector “improving” minus % reporting “weakening”; Q3)

About the AIA Home Design Trends Survey
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. Residential architects are design leaders in shaping how homes function, look, and integrate into communities and this survey helps to identify emerging trends in the housing marketplace. Business conditions are also monitored on a quarterly basis. Future surveys will focus on kitchen and bath trends (February 2012), overall home layout and use (June 2012), and specialty rooms and systems (September 2012).

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit

Matt Tinder

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