Homeowners Place High Premium on Walkable Communities and Mixed-use Developments


Billings at residential architecture firms growing in nearly every sector

WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 16, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — There has been a pronounced shift in housing and neighborhood preferences over the last decade, with strong and growing demand for infill development, mixed-use projects, access to public transportation, and high-density development. There is also an emerging desire for communities that promote a healthy lifestyle through more pedestrian-friendly design and increased access to recreational activities.

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Residential architecture firms across the country are reporting steadily improving business conditions, with remodeling activity leading the way, followed by improvement in every building sector with the exception of second homes and vacation housing. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the third quarter of 2013 that focused on community and neighborhood design.

“With a revival in interest in urban living, there has been a marked transition in what people are looking for in their communities” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Providing easy access to retail, entertainment, transportation, employment, and other elements associated with urban living environments will be a key factor as to whether communities can maintain their relevance and appeal.”

Related: AIA Podcast Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs

AIA Home Design Trends Survey highlights

Community design elements 2013 2012
Infill development 67% 64%
Access to public transportation 65% 59%
Mixed-use developments 58% 45%
Multi-generational housing 51% 50%
Greater recreational opportunities 49% 40%
Higher density development 45% 50%
Popular Home Exteriors Features 2013 2012
Low maintenance exterior materials 72% 70%
Front porches 40% 41%
Windows (number and size) Sustainable roofing 34% 24%
Contemporary design 32% 23%
Simpler exterior detailing 13% 18%
Single story homes 11% 17%

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

Housing market business conditions

AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q3 2013 (any score above 50 is positive)

• Billings: 63

• Inquiries for new projects: 68

Baker noted, “These are the best conditions at residential architecture firms since prior to the housing bubble bursting. The increased project activity has also generated growing levels of project backlogs that can keep current staff fully employed without any new work coming in.”

Specific construction segments 2013 2012
Additions / alterations 63% 58%
Kitchen and bath remodeling 58% 51%
Custom / luxury home market 30% -0.8%
Move-up home market 29% -8%
First-time buyer / affordable home market 10% 5%
Townhouse / condo market 12% -8%
Second / vacation home -18% -39%

(% 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 (March 2014), overall home layout and use (June 2014), and specialty rooms and systems (September 2014).

About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being.  Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

Matt Tinder


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