Improving Housing Market Leading to Larger Home Sizes and Increased Property Enhancements


Washington, D.C. – June 26, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — As the struggling housing market shows signs of improvement, there has been a reversal in the 6-year trend in smaller home sizes. This is the case for custom and luxury homes, as well as for additions to existing homes. A preference for outdoor living, especially blended indoor/outdoor living, continues to increase, along with strong demand for accessible and flexible home layout.

Led by strength in remodeling and renovation projects, business conditions for residential architects are experiencing the strongest growth since 2006. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the first quarter of 2012 that focused specifically on overall home layout and the use of interior and exterior space.

“In the last few years, outdoor living spaces have become the new ‘great room’ in terms of must have items for homeowners,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “As people are more interested in adapting their property to their long-term needs rather than readying it for sale, we are seeing more attention paid to landscaping and features that have some return-on-investment like rainwater catchment systems.”

Overall home layout and size trends

Residential elements (% of respondents that reported increases) 2012 2011
Volume 20% 11%
Square footage 8% 5%
Lot size 5% 2%
In-home accessibility 64% 58%
Open space layout 55% 49%
Informal space 51% 40%
Access into / out of home 47% 48%
Single-floor plan 45% 35%

Outdoor living and landscaping trends

Residential elements (% of respondents that reported increases)                2012                      2011
Low irrigation landscaping 65% 63%
Outdoor living space 64% 60%
Blended indoor / outdoor living 53% 46%
Rainwater catchment 48% 49%
Exterior / security lighting 33% 30%

Housing market business conditions

AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q1 2012 (any score above 50 is positive)

      • Billings: 56
      • Inquiries for new projects: 64

Baker continued, “These conditions are not only significantly stronger than just last quarter, but also over the past year. We aren’t close to pre-housing market bust levels of design activity, but all housing sectors are performing at vastly higher levels than recent years, and billings are likely to accelerate in the months ahead.”

Specific residential segments (index score computed as % of respondents reporting improving minus % reporting weakening conditions)

      • Kitchen and bath remodeling: 53
      • Additions / alterations: 51
      • Custom / luxury home market: -2
      • Move-up home market: -3
      • First-time buyer / affordable home market: -7
      • Townhouse / condo market: -17
      • Second / vacation home market: -36

About the AIA Home Design Trends Survey
The AIA Home Design Trend Survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of 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 specialty rooms and systems (September 2012) and community design trends (December 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

Scott Frank

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