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   As I sit down to write my annual list of resolutions for contractors, I am amazed at how much things changed in 2020. Construction was going well and then, in March 2020, COVID-19 hit. At first, we thought it was going to be a disaster for the construction industry. States, cities and towns shut down projects and many applied for PPP loans. Then, something amazing happened. Construction was considered an essential service and everyone was back to work.  That said, the work world changed: companies were donating their PPE to frontline workers, COVID-19 protocols had to be followed and paperwork had to be filed. Everyone was scrambling to figure out how to comply and keep their businesses going. So, you may or may not ask, what was I, as a construction lawyer doing? I spent March and April thinking about the new risks contractors/construction companies were facing and developing contract clauses to protect the industry. I wrote a number of blog posts with clauses to add to your contra

What the New Home Buyer Wants-From BuilderOnline

What the New Home Buyer Wants

Responsibility has replaced indulgence, according to speakers at PCBC.

Even as we worry about today, researchers, community planners, and pollsters are probing consumer demand to predict what they will want tomorrow and the definitive answer from those presenting their findings at the Pacific Coast Builders Show is something different.

The current economic situation has triggered a shift in people’s values from an era of indulgence to one of responsibility, trend tracker J. Walker Smith of Yankelovich said Thursday morning.

That translates to the home-buying consumer as a desire for homes that fit but don’t exceed space needs, are greener, and that are part of a community. It doesn’t mean that buyers are dour, though, he said. Instead, it means the opposite, because the more anxious we get about the economy, the more we look for the bright side of things, according to Smith.

It’s up to home builders to tap into those traits to find a market. “They (builders) have got to be the the voice of optimism for consumers,” Smith said.

Buyers are also looking for homes in a walkable environment with most of their daily needs met in a small footprint. That setting could be urban setting or “suburban-urban," which would be a new development that's not within an urban core, but does include some of the characteristics of a city in a planned community. “We have structurally overbuilt the wrong products in the wrong locations, delivering what the market doesn’t want,” said Christopher Leinberger, a land strategist, developer, and author of “The Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream."

Leinberger said he thinks there’s pent-up demand for walkable urban product, but concedes the industry hasn’t solved the difficult equation of building them. The infrastructure is costly, he acknowledged, but the final product does command higher prices.

In terrms of the suburban-urban model, master plan communities with urban touches in the form of town centers with grocery stores, restaurants, and retail stores nearby have boosted sales in Newland Communities’ projects as consumers look for convenience and bargains. “Consumers are adapting (to the new market),” said Malee Tobias of Newland Communities. “They are shopping even smarter than they ever did before.”

She also pointed to a new trend called “hiving," which means poeple are spending more time socializing within their community, with neighbors, and hosting events at home rather than driving distances for entertainment. “Entertaining at home is one thing they are not cutting back on,” Tobias said.

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