Crescent Communities identified the hottest new home trends expected for 2009 after compiling information from buyers and prospects in all its Charlotte-area luxury communities.
"These are the most requested items from our discriminating buyers," said Craig Martin, sales manager for Crescent Communities. "These trends are reflected in the custom and Ready to Customize (RTC) homes being built in our communities."
Here are the top nine trends expected in 2009:
Less Square Footage: Buyers are examining their lifestyles and the most important aspects of their new homes. The result is a smaller home that maximizes the square footage. But, a smaller home does not mean sacrificing on luxury. You'll find that these homes still have expected luxury features -- granite countertops, top-of-the-line appliances, upgraded trim packages and luxurious owners' baths. Even in the largest, most luxurious homes, you'll find that one room or more has been eliminated to reduce the square footage.
Room to Store: In the old days, closets were scarce. As the years have progressed, homeowners have demanded more storage space. The trend is for bigger, walk-in closets with built-in storage systems and packing islands. The idea is to avoid wasted space and maximize the square footage of the home. Built-in niches and attic storage rooms provide a purpose for otherwise unusable space.
Outdoor Living: The past few years have seen a steady rise in the popularity of outdoor living space. This trend doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. It's especially true in the South, where suitable outdoor space can be used for at least three seasons. And, many homeowners are requesting screened porches so they can enjoy the outdoors as long as possible. Others request open patio areas that feature fireplaces and built-in kitchens.
Universal Design: Features like sunken living rooms, spiral staircases and tall cabinets were once popular, but those days seem to be behind us. Today's homes (and likely tomorrow's) are easy to move around in, regardless of the physical limitations you or your family members might have. Wider hallways and doors, fewer stairs (and even elevators in larger homes) seem to be standard. Architects often use the phrase "universal design" to describe homes with features like these because they are comfortable for people of all ages and abilities.
Designing for Women: It's no secret that women are the driving force behind most home-buying decisions. So, it stands to reason that homes are designed around features that are important to the fairer sex. Drop zones help keep the home's main spaces free of clutter. Extra-large laundry rooms, luxurious spa-like owners' baths with inviting tubs and state-of-the-art security systems are features important to women.
Green AND Healthy Homes: Buyers are increasingly savvy to environmental friendliness as it pertains to their homes. The green movement is not only a trend, it's becoming more of "the norm." Buyers are seeking improved ways to make their homes more efficient and reduce utility costs. And, buyers are ready to go a step further. The use of paints with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carpets that emit no or lower gas levels and recycled materials on the job site all help make a healthier home. Also, a better insulated home not only saves energy, but it also keeps dangerous allergens out of the home, thereby helping to keep your family out of doctors' offices and drug stores.
Smarter Homes: Today's home wiring includes more than standard electrical connections. Dedicated wiring for data, telephone, audio and video are standard options. In-wall speakers, intercom systems, wireless networks and options to control lighting and temperature (even when you are not at home) are highly requested options in today's high-end homes. You can even install security cameras to keep an eye on the kids when you are away ("nanny cams") or see who's at the door before you open it. It all adds up to convenience, safety and peace of mind for today's luxury home buyer.
The Kitchen Still Brings the Heat: It's impossible to do a hot home trends list and ignore the kitchen. It remains one of the most important areas in the home, and luxury buyers continue to seek ample space and storage, restaurant-quality appliances and high-end finishes. But now, utilitarian extras such as recycling organizers, specialized storage options and walk-in pantries are requirements. And, islands are still a craze and will remain so, although the best are unique and are much like pieces of furniture. They tend to not match the kitchen's cabinetry, making them true standouts.
Homework Habitats: A designated space for working at home has gained in popularity during the last few years, and seems to be growing more. The recent economic concerns, along with gas prices, have caused more companies to encourage employees to work from home in an effort to cut costs. Sufficient home office space is a necessity in this new environment. A good home office combines the efficiency of an office with the comforts of home.