Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Music to our ears. The sounds of new home construction.

 Originally published in New Buffalo Times - April 24, 2014

Throughout Southwest Michigan and Northwest Indiana if you listen carefully you’ll hear the sweet sounds of a real estate industry revival underway.  Singing circular saws, tap dancing hammers and the percussion of air compressors; construction crews are working at a fevered  pace building dream homes for fortunate new construction home buyers.
According to a National Association of Realtors 2014 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey; 29% of primary residence home buyers and 46% of vacation home buyers purchased homes in small towns, rural areas and resort communities during 2013.  Of the active home buyers surveyed 52% indicated they would be likely to purchase a vacation home within the next two years. There is pent-up demand for certain types of newer homes and a desire among home buyers to own energy efficient, care free homes that don’t need; updates to kitchens and baths, exterior renovations and significant home maintenance projects.   
From the dunes along the Lake Michigan shoreline to the charming rolling countryside, and throughout the many “getaway” communities like those surrounding New Buffalo Michigan; home buyers who haven’t found just the perfect existing resale home are opting for the thrill of owning a brand new one.  “During the last 2 years, we have experienced a steady increase in the number of new home design projects, particularly in waterfront properties. Our new home clientele have frequently looked at a substantial number of existing homes, only to fall short of finding that elusive “dream home” that meets all of their criteria. While there are many common wish list items that new home clients want in their new homes, the true essence of this process is experiencing the joy of having a home designed that is specifically tailored to your very own needs and desires,” says Elkhart, Indiana based architect Jeff Helman of HELMAN SECHRIST Architecture, who is currently building a contemporary style custom home along the lake front in New Buffalo Township.

What are those buyers of new construction homes dreaming about?  Open kitchens that blend into living space with a focus on entertaining.  Some kitchen appliances are showing off their gleaming stainless exteriors with others sporting richly designed decorative panels that help make the super energy efficient appliances less visible and more a part of the rest of the home.   Warm neutrals and crisp whites are popular colors of choice for walls and cabinetry with an occasional brave bright color within small details on a back splash, on kitchen accessories and wall art.  Granite counters are still a favorite with some designers leaning toward practical quartz materials.   A first floor master bedroom or guest suite is a priority for home buyers that have a refreshed sensibility regarding the age of home occupants. Even being smart about how an active person might live in a home if they should suffer from an inconvenient sports injury has become common sense design.  And happily, thoughtfulness about how we live with our beloved pets is a rapidly developing component of the design narrative for the American home. 
Some new home buyers are on the hunt for newly constructed “move in ready” luxury homes that are on the market now.  It’s the ultimate in immediate gratification when you can move right into a brand new home that has been expertly designed to match up with what smart home buyers are looking for

 According to Realtor Teri Maki with BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOMESERVICES KOENIGRUBLOFF REALTY GROUP who has recently completed building and currently offers for purchase; a 4 bedroom, 3 bath 3,880 square foot home in The Lake Michigan Riviera Community of New Buffalo Township:   “It’s a pleasure for me as a home builder, and a Realtor, to hand over the keys to a delighted new construction home buyer.  Just like the excitement of buying a brand new car, the thrill of new construction is the experience of being able to walk into a home no one has ever touched but you, and to make it your very own."  When asked about the design elements she uses to give each home the charm that keeps each of her homes so special, Maki points to the many custom built-ins and custom woodwork throughout her homes. “It softens the rooms in the home and gets it away from feeling like a new construction drywall box." 

Experts advise aspiring new construction home buyers to consult professionals such as a Realtor, mortgage specialist, architect, builder and in some cases an engineering firm.  Even with all the visible and audible evidence of new home building, you may not hear proclamations of a new construction housing boom.  Rising costs of building materials, and for some still tight mortgage conditions along with challenges with appraisals of new construction homes remain as potential obstacles to a true boom in new home construction.   

Enthusiastic business and municipal leaders embrace the striking rhythm of hammers anticipating a resonant economic impact from new construction in the form of energized local businesses, more jobs and tax revenues generated for local governments. More than a few will welcome this construction season with applause for the sights and sounds of a home construction revival. 

Enjoy the music.

Rob Gow is a writer/ photo contributor with twelve years of experience as a Realtor in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Rob is affiliated with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, KoenigRubloff RealtyGroup in New Buffalo, Michigan.  Rob Gow can be contacted at