Design Trends

The Light: Opportunities to Cut Costs, Not Value

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In response to many requests, we found 3 actively selling or recently sold out projects we photographed and analyzed in our New Home Trends Institute’s DesignLens™ database where builders stripped out some huge costs and still sold really well. For the communities you have yet to open, consider going big and giving up what these 3 projects gave up:  

  1. a private primary bathroom.  
  2. a private yard. 
  3. a garage.

A home that gave up the separate primary bathroom. 

Eagle Ridge at Tehaleh, south of Seattle, offered two plans (out of five total) in their first phase where the primary and secondary bedrooms shared a bathroom. While not a common tradeoff, it targeted the apartment buyer who was already accustomed to a 1-bath residence. Home builder Azure Northwest made a 2- and 3-bedroom home—with an attached one-car garage and sizable yard—attainable for young families. Prices started in the $400,000s.  

According to the builder, the plans with the shared bathroom were just as successful as their more conventional product. Sales exceeded projections during their initial launch and continued to climb, even as pricing increased. They are now sold out of this plan. For all the project photos and analysis, click here

A home that gave up the private yard.

In the active adult portion of the Kissing Tree master plan community in San Marcos, south of Austin, The Cottages at Kissing Tree swapped a private yard for a prime location overlooking the 10th and 18th holes of Kissing Tree’s golf course, topping it off with a view of the Texas Hill Country. These homes have been selling so well (starting in the high $300,000s), their success prompted the opening of two new phases by the builder, Brookfield Residential. While shared, the green spaces still create a nice buffer between homes and give the illusion of private yards, without passing any cost or maintenance onto the homeowners. For all the project photos and analysis, click here

A home that gave up the garage.

The Chatham Park Cottages in suburban Raleigh, like the Cottages at Kissing Tree, are cluster-plotted with shared green space. However, 23 out of the 30 Chatham Park homes have assigned parking spots instead of garages. Although Garman Homes thought there’d be more pushback on having no garage in the affordable brand they call Fresh Paint, buyers received it well. This collection sold out and Garman Homes now plans to feature the Cottages prominently in their new division, for their attainability, style, and ability to diversify product. 

Starting at a petite 826 square feet and prices in the $200,000s, these homes appealed to a broad mix of buyers (first-time, move-down, active-adult, and recently divorced), who were willing to trade a garage and private yard for a charming, high-quality, 2-bed/2-bath, affordable home with a front porch. For all the project photos and analysis, click here

In conclusion

Builders will need to make bold decisions in response to the recent surge in mortgage rates and inflation. Some will charge forward as planned. Others will “mothball” communities for another day. The most creative builders will explore alternative options, with many we are already working with looking at pivoting to rental housing, including recapitalizing the project for a long-term hold. Others will make bold decisions like these 3 builders did. We would love the opportunity to discuss your communities with you.

To learn more about how the New Home Trends Institute or our consulting team can help you, fill out this form or reach out to me, Anja Seng, and let’s set up a call.