SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL: New home construction
Single family home sales rose across the country
According to data from the National Association of Home Builders, sales of newly built, single family homes across the country rose by 8.3 percent in 2017.
Tim O’Brien Homes
The current seller’s market in Dane County is boosting new home construction, says Danny Lowery, division president for Tim O’Brien Homes. He notes that median sale prices of existing homes have been rising by 6 to 8 percent annually, and the average number of days a home sits on the market has dipped below two months.
As a result, competition for existing homes has buyers turning to new construction. But with rising construction costs and a shortage of labor, the new construction market has struggled to keep up with the demand, Lowery says.
“But the appreciation of existing homes, as well as historically low interest rates, still allows for a strong market of buyers looking to build and invest in a new home,” he says.
In fact, new construction is fairly strong throughout the Metro Madison area, from the city to surrounding communities.
“There are a lot of exciting projects that continue to come on board that will be attractive places for buyers to live,” Lowery says. “Dane County really leads the state in bringing on communities that are trying to serve multiple price points as well as creating vibrant communities that can be attractive to a wide demographic of buyers.”
The main advantage of new construction over purchasing an existing home is that buyers can solve the problems they might encounter in apartments or existing homes, such as proximity to schools, work and amenities.
“Energy efficiency, comfort and low maintenance are market expectations that you also get with a new purchase. It fits in well with how most people live,” Lowery says. “They want a good investment, but don’t want to work on it every weekend.”
These benefits have created a bullish market for new home construction. Although new apartment construction has been booming over the last five years, not enough new homes are being built. People moving into all the new apartments now are future buyers of single family homes later; a percentage of those buyers will be interested in new homes.
“Interest rates, while climbing a little, remain relatively low and make home ownership still one of the best long-term investments someone can make,” Lowery says.
New home construction is coming back strong, agrees Autumn Stankovsky, interior designer with Floor360.
“I started working for FLOOR360 during the building boom in the early 2000s and lived through the decline, so it’s very exciting to see the industry this busy again,” she says.
FLOOR360 works with new home builders and buyers on finishes such as floors, showers and window treatments. The company has worked on new homes all around Dane County, with Middleton, Verona and Waunakee being popular places for new home construction.
“We do see new home construction in surrounding counties as well,” Stankovsky says. “A lot of people commute into Madison from surrounding counties, so building is busy in those areas as well.”
People choose building new homes versus remodeling existing homes for a variety of reasons, but a main attraction is the ability to get what they want in a new home – including current design and options for new products.
“You are able to start fresh and select all of your finishes as well as lay out your floor plan in a manner that suits your family best,” Stankovsky says.
When building a new home, buyers can select each finish and detail going into the home without the limitations of working with existing finishes, she notes.
“I think sites such as Pinterest and Houzz have inspired people to put more thought into the finishes and features of their home and really personalize it when they are building,” Stankovsky says.
The design trend in new homes includes open floor plans with hardwood throughout. European Oak is a popular hardwood floor, which can be wire-brushed, stained and fumed to add more character. Luxury vinyl plank flooring is also a great option for an active household where maintenance might be more of a concern.
“The looks are now so realistic that it can be hard to tell that they aren’t real hardwood,” Stankovsky says.
For window coverings, the popular look is cleaner, with blinds and shades instead of heavy draperies. Roller shades are also making a comeback. “Builders can wire ahead of time, so the window coverings
can be integrated into the whole home automated system,” she says.
Stankovsky doesn’t see the market for new homes slowing down anytime soon. “We continue to get more bids for new construction, and I feel the industry will continue to stay busy and strong,” she says.
New home construction is also a big part of business for DreamHouse DreamKitchens, says Jerry Schmidt, Dream Team sales director.
The DreamKitchens side of the business works with clients to help them build their dream kitchen in their new home.
“We take the home drawings that are provided by the builder, design the cabinetry and then provide you the cabinetry,” Schmidt explains.
The team has a computer program that produces a 3D color rendering of a kitchen plan, which gives a more realistic picture of what the kitchen will look like when it’s done. “It really helps you feel like you are in the space,” Schmidt says. “It allows a customer to actually see the design instead of trying to depict from a line drawing. It’s pretty awesome.”
Building a new home allows homeowners to get what they want in a home versus having to work around the confines of an existing home. Recent trends have leaned toward more modern, contemporary looks for their kitchens, but other finishes are also in the mix.
“The last few years it’s been paint, paint, paint – white paint on trim, white paint on cabinets,” says Schmidt. “It’s nice to see more of the stained wood trims and cabinets making a comeback.”
Today’s trends include natural wood stained trim and cabinets, solid colors such as grays, or even deep blues in navy, or a mix of both.
Many cabinet providers will charge more for painted cabinets than for natural wood, but at DreamKitchens, all cabinets cost the same entry level price: “We want people to shop according to what they want and not the daunting dollar,” Schmidt says. “We say what’s your jam and let’s go with it.”
Schmidt is hopeful that the upward trend in new construction continues.
“It’s been a pretty nice and steady increase,” he says. —
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