What’s Trending in 2015?

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Design trends in the new construction home market have been evolving over the last few years but some trends remain steadfast, such as the demand for open living spaces which is expected to grow into the foreseeable future.  But one of the most significant changes in new home design is that homes are actually getting smaller according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders. New single family homes are expected to be about 10 percent smaller in size with the average size to be approximately 2,152 square feet. The reason for this dramatic change is that new home buyers are focusing on their finances and want lower heating and cooling costs.  The baby boomer generation no longer requires huge amounts of space. Below, we take a look at what’s trending in homes so far this year.

WIDE, OPEN SPACES: Due to the trend toward open spaces, separate living and dining rooms are becoming obsolete along with mud rooms and third bathrooms.  The kitchen and living areas will become one open great room with plenty of space for sitting and eating.

YOU ARE WHERE YOU EAT: The current kitchen style for 2015 combines contemporary with tradition details for a warmer, cozy feeling.  Also, darker cabinets and quartz counter tops have become increasingly popular while glass back splashes are the latest craze.  Satin nickel and polished chrome pull-out faucets are also the new hot trend.  Handle-less faucets are the new rage using motion sensors.  Recessed lighting, double sinks and plenty of room to eat are more top trends for this year according to the NAHB survey.

ITS ALL IN THE DETAILS: Trends in color and materials are forever changing and new home buyers are choosing textured surfaces with a more natural organic feel instead of high-gloss, shiny smooth surfaces of the past.

THE GREAT OUTDOORS: Another trend for 2015 is the growth in outdoor living.  New home buyers want their outdoor living spaces to be an extension of their home.  Building products that provide a seamless transition between indoors and out are in vogue in addition to freestanding fireplaces and fire pits.

GOING GREEN: All that said, the trend toward energy efficient appliances, windows and building products is expected to reach an all-time high as savvy new home buyers are environmentally conscious and want to save money over the long term.


Federal Housing Administration, for the win!


If there was ever a time to applaud the government and FHA (Federal Housing Administration) it is now. After making record profits from Mortgage Insurance Premium increases, which nearly doubled, FHA decided to cut those fees by 50%. The change has not only increased the number of FHA originations but also increased the number of refinances, which increases bottom line profit.

Another positive sign of recovery will be the increase in new home starts nationwide, despite the severe cold weather for us and the east coast! Now, the next big step that the FHA should do is increase it’s loan limits. New home prices are on the rise, which is a good thing, I promise! If FHA raised their loan limits back to last year’s numbers or better yet, increased them by 10%, the economy would roar back to life. Raised limits would create sales of new homes, which would create jobs, which would create home ownership, which would increase sales of goods (furniture, appliances etc.) and further perpetuate the economy.

New Construction Growth:December 2014 numbers have builders anticipating continued growth in new year

Builders continued growth

Evidence of an improving housing market continues to emerge.

The number of applications for U.S. home mortgages is on the rise and data from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development indicates U.S. single-family home starts increased impressively in December 2014.

Business Insider noted the greater number of housing construction projects taking place may indicate good news for the U.S. economy. The housing market has improved sluggishly over the past few years, and the recent gains are particularly well-received. An influx in housing starts may signal a heightened demand for housing, which can drive the market up.

Construction is growing at a notable rate. In December 2014, single-family home starts occurred at a greater rate than they had in 6½ years. Additionally, groundbreaking in all of 2014 increased to 1.01 million units – an increase of 8.8% since 2013, according to HUD. That growth is the highest rate seen since 2007.

Privately owned housing starts jumped up 5.3% in December 2014 from December 2013, and single-family home starts were up 7.2% from November 2014’s estimates.

December 2014 also saw an increased number of privately owned housing completions, which ticked up 19.6% from December 2013. The number of completions also outpaced November 2014’s estimated number of completions by 6.3%.

Homebuilders have a positive outlook on housing starts in 2015. The National Association of Home Builders, a trade group, is optimistic going into to the new year. As the U.S. moves into a stronger economy, seeing more job growth and low interest rates, the NAHB anticipates a promising 2015.

The association expects a 6.7% increase for housing starts from 2014 to 2015, or 993,000 units. NAHB predicts single-family home starts to increase 26%, which still remains below the level of starts seen prior to the housing crisis in 2008.

In addition to the anticipated boost in construction, NAHB also foresees some growth in the remodeling market this year. The organization forecasts remodeling projects of owner-occupied, single-family homes may increase 3% from the prior year in 2015 and an additional 1.5% in 2016.

“Remodelers are responding to calls from homeowners on steadier financial footing than recent years,” said Robert Criner, NAHB Remodelers chairman. “From major kitchen remodels and bath facelifts to room additions, the members of NAHB Remodelers look forward to providing professional remodeling services in 2015.”

New Home Sales In 2015 On The Rise


There is a pretty strong consensus among economists and Real Estate Industry experts that new home sales in 2015 are expected to rise 25%.  This will be the best year for new home sales since 2007.

This number is very encouraging, representing approximately 820,000 new home starts in 2015, but it is still below the 1 million historical average.

What is holding back new home construction?

  • Lending  – both to home buyers and builders
  • Millennial student debt holding back first time home buyers
  • Builders have not expanded their land positions to more peripheral areas

What will boost new home construction in 2015?

  • Strong economic recovery
  • Improving Labor market
  • Low inventory levels in resale

Madison housing market & strengthening economy are good news for 2015

Many home construction company gains occurred during periods of low U.S. home mortgage and other related rates.
winter house

Many home construction company gains occurred during periods of low U.S. home mortgage and other related rates. CNBC reported iShares Home Construction ETF saw a 7.6% average return, Masco averaged around an 8.4% gain, D.R. Horton reported an 8.7% average return, Lennar gained 10.1% and PulteGroup saw the highest average return of  14.8% during low rate and strong growth periods. 


Historical evidence for improvement of housing-market-related stocks. CNBC took a look at previous situations to determine a projection for the future of the housing market. In 1980, the 10-year Treasury yield dipped under 2.5%, and gross domestic product teetered above 2%. The result of these two numbers meeting instigated four quarters when home? builder stocks skyrocketed. This pattern could be mimicked in 2015.

Kiplinger, a business forecasting and finance advising company based out of the District of Columbia, reported GDP at 2% during the fourth quarter, MarketWatch noted that the current 10-year Treasury dropped to 2.19% Dec. 30. These conditions mimic those observed previously and lead economists to forecast a great year in 2015.




The baby boomer generation is boosting new home sales across the country with Southwest Florida becoming the largest market for new homes.  This generation has the Purchase Power as they have had decades to build their credit histories and wealth.  They have been educated to buy NEW.  Homes are built better today, are more energy efficient and builders realize that they have to deliver a quality product to demanding buyers.  Baby Boomers will pay for upgrades and lot premiums which are the bread and butter for builders. John Burns, a housing consultant in Irvine, California said “It’s really going to happen all over the country.”  According to Bloomberg News, sales of new single family homes are projected to increase by 16% in 2015 while housing starts will increase by 15%.

National builders are targeting this generation by appealing to wealthier buyers and active adult markets and warmer markets.  Top destinations have affordable homes, lower taxes and a welcoming business environment according to NAR.  In addition to Southwest Florida, Albuquerque, NM; Boise, ID; Denver, CO; Phoenix, AZ; Greenville, SC; and Raleigh, NC are experiencing the boom.

How long do you think it will take before Madison, Wisconsin is added to the list above?

5-3-?-?-? What Your Zip Code Says About YOU!

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Thinking about building a new home in a different ZIP code from where you currently live?  Check out a new tool by Esri that, if nothing else, is fun to browse as you consider the ZIP code your new home may be built in.  Esri is a geographic information firm who has created a new interactive map which mines socioeconomic and demographic data to create a picture of who lives in each ZIP code.  Esri’s “Tapestry Segmentation” database uses 67 neighborhood classifications, complete with cutesy names like “American Dreamers”, “Front Porches” and “Top Tier”.  The data lets you look into the stereotypical lives of residents in the ZIP code, including their average income, age, and population.

How much truth there is in these broad characterizations is questionable.  Does an entire ZIP code really listen to the same type of radio?  According to my ZIP code, there’s supposedly a lot of Soccer Moms residing here, which I have to say is pretty accurate based on the number of minivans with soccer ball stickers on their rear windows!  Some of the other traits may or may not truly represent ME personally and could be too generalized.

Yet, as I sampled through some other ZIP codes that I am familiar with, I was surprised at how accurate much of the information appeared to be in terms of a general representation.  It was an interesting tool to play around with for a while, and does help me gain a better understanding (if not somewhat subjectively) of the different areas in my city.  Check it out at: