Use Architectural Trends To Help Buyers Home

New construction builds

Taking a stroll through a neighborhood, it's not uncommon to hear bulldozers razing older, vacant homes. It seems like only days later, a new, larger house replaces it. This house is completely unlike its predecessor. It’s bulky, big, and colorless. And other houses like it seem to be popping up everywhere.

These new developments aren’t always welcome. Residents and housing advocates have expressed outright disdain for how these boxy, “prefab” properties have sucked out the cultural distinction from their previously affordable communities. However, these new builds can provide much-needed relief from housing shortages and help slow rising prices by adding new inventory to the market.

So, even if these new properties seem boxy, if you unlock their charms, you can help buyers achieve their homeownership dreams. Knowing the architecture of a home in today’s market can provide agents with insight into what current buyers are looking for. Being able to understand how to put these new builds in context can give you and your business an edge.

Prefab To Fabulous

While home buyers’ tastes can, and do, change over time, one thing remains consistent: buyers want to snag a luxury home at an affordable price. In fact, what seems commonplace and “prefab” can become “fabulous” over time. For example, take brownstones. While we equate the brownstone now with Carrie Bradshaw and the elite Manhattan lifestyle, in the mid-19th century buyers craved homes that reflected an upper-class lifestyle and sold at middle-class prices. Named after the material they’re made from, brownstones not only could be built cheaply and with steam-powered machines, but their brown and deep green hues reflected the romantic classicism aesthetic that was popular during that era. Nevertheless, brownstones, being a type of rowhouse, were still subject to the same “common” look. Each brownstone looked just like another. Critics of these new builds described brownstones as repetitive and boring. Now? The number of brownstones being built has dramatically decreased, so available brownstones are even more valuable to potential home buyers—on average, a brownstone can go for at least $3.5 million. There’s nothing “boring” about that!   

Boring Buildings Matter

Rather than thinking how industrial details and a “greige” color palette can make a property look new and clean, potential buyers simply see the same design repeated in other houses nearby and think “boring.”   

Residents aren’t quiet about finding buildings boring either. In Denver, Colorado, a Facebook group called “Denver FUGLY” discusses the participants’ distaste for the monotonous design that’s emerging in their community. Blogger Kate Wagner created the viral blog “McMansion Hell” as a response to the proliferation of prefab homes pejoratively labeled McMansions. In a post titled “This House May Or May Not Be Real,” she laments on the showing of houses that are staged and built in a way that doesn’t reflect anyone’s particular style. The soul-sucking gray color palettes in both the home décor and furniture have created an aesthetic that few homeowners actually prefer. However, she doesn’t fail to recognize that such decisions come from a fear of personalizing a property too much in case it alienates a buyer.

But what does “boring” mean anyway?

Neuroscientist Colin Ellard explains that people prefer visuals that offer some level of complexity in their surroundings. People like to remain curious about what they’re looking at. If buildings and community lose that curiosity, that’s when they become “boring.”

The good news is that even the most common, prefab, “boring” house can be just what a buyer is looking for—if you can help them see themselves in it.

The Build Is The Baseline

Buyers will always want an affordable, comfortable home. Often that means they’re going to be looking at homes that might fall under these prefab conditions, in communities of similar builds. Instead of letting buyers believe that these developments are “boring,” you can help them understand that the properties they are looking at are just the starting-point for the homes they can make in them. The great thing about homeownership is that you get to personalize! 

Here are three ways in which you can help your buyers by understanding architectural trends in every market:

  1. Look Deeper
    Remember that buyers may have a chance to change design elements they don’t like, so we can manage those concerns. As we advise in Your First Home, they should look for structural issues instead of worrying about paint color.
  2. Consider Cosmetic Changes
    If there are no structural problems with a property, help buyers identify the small cosmetic changes they could make that would have big impacts!
  3. Help Them Home
    One of the easiest ways to help a buyer into their dream home it to help them into their first home. As a real estate agent, you have the power to make change happen within your communities and provide families with a much needed asset—a home.

Understanding how the architecture of a house or its community could influence a buyer allows agents to help them make sensible choices. By helping buyers know how to look beyond the surface when it comes to lower-cost new builds, you can use your professional insight to identify not only a home that's easy on their eyes, but on their wallets as well.

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