Posted in Uncategorized on November 14, 2009|
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Maybe houses in the South don’t really need a fireplace. Interesting article from the WSJ on new demands buyers are making on Giant Corporate Homebuilders – smaller, simpler, cheaper, etc.
Fearful that their market is evaporating, company executives have spent the past few months trying to figure out what buyers are willing to give up, and what they aren’t. On the latter list are four bedrooms, a downstairs powder room, a garage that fits at least two cars, and granite countertops in the kitchen. “We feel that’s one of the things homeowners are still holding onto,” said Shane Roach, vice president of home-building operations.
The master bedroom must have its own bathroom, with separate tub and shower. The tub is still big, but the jets, standard equipment for at least a decade, are now optional in new models. It turns out few buyers used the jets more than a couple of times. The children get one-piece, fiberglass tub-shower combinations, instead of tiled walls.
The “home-management” center — a built-in desk in the family room — has disappeared from the newest plans. Such luxuries are now available at an extra charge. Window casings are 2¾ inches wide instead of 3½ inches wide in one scaled-down model that Wieland is just now putting on the market. In another, company officials want to move a master-bedroom window from the side wall of the house to the rear. Smaller houses come on smaller lots, and having a window on the side makes it hard to avoid noticing that the neighbor’s house is just a few yards away.
The other day, Mr. Kingsfield, the company’s sales chief, pulled into a golf-club development near Canton, Ga., and stopped at a lot where workers were listening to mariachi music as they stacked bricks to form the facade of a 3,335-square-foot home called the Madison.
A couple of years ago, a new house in this neighborhood would likely have had a two-story foyer that framed the curved staircase inside. But the Madison’s staircase is neither grand nor visible from the front door. In fact, it climbs out of the mud room next to the garage.
“In an ego-driven market, it’s where you walk in the door and impress friends with the staircase,” Mr. Kingsfield said. “That’s gone. It’s not about impressing anymore. It’ll still be nice. There will still be wood, still be trim. But it’s more conservative.”
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