Last week I attended the IBS Show in Las Vegas, along with Dwell Realty’s Marketing Director, Claire James. We came away with some new marketing ideas as well as design trends and a better understanding of the U.S. housing market. Like all conference attendees, and there were over 80,000, we had to figure out what was applicable to our particular market place. Although Alaska is the largest state, we are one of the smaller markets with only 85,000 housing units in the MOA and well below average new construction starts for a city our size with a 296,000+ population. In fact, in January 2019, there were only five new single family homes permitted.

What we did come away with is that 68% of all buyers still want a single family home, whether they are millennials or aging boomers. But, the single family home is shrinking. This is due to higher home prices and tightening affordability but also a mindset change and recognition that big is not always better. Since 2016, there has been a continued decline in the average home size and decreased demand for three car plus garages. Alaskans still love their big garages for all their outdoor toys but garage space is almost as expensive as bedroom and living space so for some buyers having the fourth bedroom or flex room becomes more important. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average new-construction home declined to 2,576 square feet from its peak at 2,689. Increased production in townhouses, which comprised 14% of all new home starts, contributed to the downsizing, and we will see that trend continuing for Anchorage  in 2019, due to our lack of developable residential land. 

But regardless of size, what all buyers want is a good-sized laundry room. This is particularly true here since many of the homes built in the 1970’s and 1980’s have closet size laundry areas off a hallway. Today’s laundry room can still be small due to the W/D stack but it needs upper shelving and poles as well as a countertop. If there’s not enough space and the W/D is side by side, consider putting a laminate top over the W/D. A laundry sink is the ultimate luxury as is a window.  

Design trends include a combination of white, gray and natural brown wood tones, similar to naturally stained cherry. Gray has not gone away but it’s now in combination with other colors.  And wallpaper is back, particularly on vanity bath walls and even as a substitute for kitchen backsplashes. The most popular kitchen in the entire show was RED!  And let’s rethink pet washing. There’s now a doggie shower.

As for new marketing  ideas, you’ll see Dwell Realty and our builders more online and social media as well as TV in various venues but we’ll still be here on the Sunday front page of the classified section, providing you with newly listed homes and market commentary.