The big take-away from the International Builders Show held last week in Las Vegas, with over 100,000 attendees (over 120 from Alaska,) is the Art of Personalization. Baby boomers crave personalization. Gen Xers expect, and want, personalization, and millennials, or the ‘millies’ as they are called in the real estate trade, live personalization. What exactly does that mean? Starbucks has 80,000 beverage variations, and McDonalds has introduced kiosks at their order counter so that customers can customize their burger. Taco Bell has done the same. Home builders need to take notice from the food and beverage industry.

Demographically, there are 29 home-buying groups, ranging from young single, older single, middle family, the mature family, not to mention the multi-generational family. Thanks to Houzz and Pinterest, every single one of these home buying groups has an opinion as to the type of master bathroom mirror they want to peer into every morning, plus the color and material of the kitchen countertop and backsplash. Builders who build spec homes and finish their interiors are in for a longer buyer wait time. A better business strategy is to finish and furnish a model home, then take spec homes to the drywall and trim stage and allow one of those individuals in the 29 different home-buying groups to make their own selections. The Art of Personalization used to be confined to the upper-end buyer, but not anymore. If you can customize your burger and your coffee, you are definitely going to want to pick out your kitchen countertop in your new home purchase.

Sellers preparing their pre-owned home for sale face the same dilemma. Better to just get rid of the clutter. Take twenty-five percent of your furniture out of your over-stuffed living or family room. Clear your kitchen counters. Have your home professionally cleaned. Up the wattage in your light bulbs and turn on all your lights for showings. If your carpet is dirty or worn, replace it in a neutral color. Paint out your accent walls in one of the nine off-white shades offered by Benjamin Moore. Let a buyer do that $30,000 kitchen remodel. Whether it’s an entry-level condo in mid-town or a million dollar home on the hillside, it is even harder for a private seller to second guess what’s trending in the market place.

Whether we know it or not, we are all influenced by style and color trends. Last year, the ‘it’ color was blue. This year it is a ‘magenta’. Eighty percent of all home buyers selected white cabinets in 2015. Probably fifty percent of those mixed and matched those white cabinets with a darker base cabinet or island. Remember granite? It was nowhere to be found on the Las Vegas display floor. It has been replaced by quartz and, believe it or not, laminate. Only this laminate has no pattern, just a solid color or linen finish, and falls to the floor in a waterfall wall. And that kitchen countertop is now four to six inches thick while the bathroom cabinet is off the floor in a stand-alone configuration and functions like a piece of furniture, adding floor space to the traditional 5 x 8 bathroom area.