With building resurgence, home buyers find new design options - East Valley Tribune: Real Estate

With building resurgence, home buyers find new design options

Houses may include separate living areas for multiple generations, smaller yards for less maintenance

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Posted: Sunday, March 24, 2013 9:37 am | Updated: 7:20 pm, Fri Mar 29, 2013.

East Valley homebuilders are charging forward with developments and new construction as customers continue to flow through the doors.

But they’re also offering new home designs to meet what homeowners want in a changing economic and social climate.

Mark Stapp said a new trend in homebuilding is emerging. Stapp is the Fred E. Taylor Professor in Real Estate and director of the Master of Real Estate Development program at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business.

“I think the trend at the moment is to create flexibility in homes. The composition of the homeowner, the family composition, is changing,” Stapp said.

Homebuyers will find more open floor plans, options to create a second bedroom suite in the home, or even options to create an entire living area that’s separate from the rest of the house.

“It’s an interesting time period because we’ve had a slow down in new household formation because we’ve had younger people putting off forming families later into their life span, having kids later, resulting in possibly fewer kids. But in the meantime a lot of them have been renting or have moved back home,” Stapp said.

With the downturn in the economy, not only are young adults moving back home, but in some cases, generations live together. That means more space is needed in the home for cooking, eating and relaxing.

In the last 12 months, Standard Pacific Homes has developed six new product lines, with 30 new plans.

The company just opened a new phase in Mesa at Highland Ridge.

“The key element there is there’s more square footage dedicated to places people live and spend a majority of time,” said Pat Moroney, president of the Standard Pacific Homes Arizona division. “The kitchen is the hub for the new family. Our new designs really feature the kitchen as an important part of the family with extensive cabinet areas and islands that can be used in a variety of different ways and they’re connected to our great rooms.”

Stapp said future buyers might look for another option: “lock and leave” homes.

“What we’re doing is building homes not for today, quite honestly, though the people who are living in them will live in them today. We really should be looking at a housing stock that will fill the needs for future populations so it doesn’t become obsolete,” he said.

Stapp suggested buyers in the future might want that same flexibility being offered now, but in a smaller home, with fewer maintenance requirements and more community amenities.

Fulton Homes may be setting that new trend at Chandler’s Fulton Ranch in its newest addition, The Reserve. There, homes are smaller, but with more options. And the neighborhood includes more features, with a community pool, said Dennis Webb, vice president of operations for Fulton Homes.

The division opened three weeks ago, and already 45 homes have been purchased.

“The lifestyle is a little different,” he said of the 218 homes in the community.

“There’s not a lot of room for a big backyard and pool. It’s really the first time we’ve done this,” he said. “We heard quite a lot from customers. Even through the lots are smaller, people are spending quite a bit of money on options and they’re personalizing the house.”

The kitchen and the attached great room or living area is still the focus of the home.

Similar plans will be introduced when Fulton Homes opens its development in Gilbert’s Cooley Station later this year, he said.

There, the homes will have a courtyard that can be an extension of the living room, he said.

“It’s for someone who really wants an Arizona lifestyle. They have their courtyard, a barbecue and water feature,” he said. “There are also three community pools. So if they want to go swimming, they can use someone else’s pool. The good thing is the (homeowners’ association fee) is not that much, though they have that lifestyle.”

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