Tag Archives: Home buyers

The Housing Economy Experiences Gradual Growth

2 Aug

Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Study Releases Important Data

Human hand add a  coin in the final row

With numerous housing reports coming out each month, many have debated what these new economic performance measurements will mean for the future of housing rates and for the building industry. According to Harvard’s The State of the Nation’s Housing 2016 report, new home sales are strengthening with a 6.39% increase to 5.3 million. Although these numbers may indicate that the housing economy is not back to where it once was, it does show that there is substantial improvement from recent years.

Major report findings:

  • Multifamily starts rose 11.8% to 397,300, the highest in 27 years. Single-family starts were also up, rising 10.5% to 715,000.
  • Sales of both new and existing homes are up. The existing homes inventory remains tight with a supply of 4.8 months.
  • The inventories of for-sale homes in the low and middle price tiers dropped 9% between 2014 and 2015, contributing to a total decline of 38% between 2010 and 2015.
  • The median price of existing homes rose 6.6% to $222,400. Rising home prices have contributed to a reduction in the number of homeowners with negative equity.

However, other issues have risen, specifically the cost burden for renters. According to the report, 36.4% of households in 2015 opted to rent, which is the highest numbers seen since the late 1960s. This stems from low-income rates, as well as millennials who still are deeply in debt with school. Many millennials say that they envision themselves purchasing a home of their own one day, but due to financial troubles do not see themselves buying a home in the near future.

The report also shows that US housing starts have risen more than excepted in June due to construction activity. Despite the rise in housing starts, data points show that there will be a leaner second quarter, especially with it being an election year. While we are still far away from a boom period in housing, the latest housing starts from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Study shows that we are on a gradual recovery path.

Key Takeaways:

  • Americans remain optimistic toward homeownership
  • Household growth is on the rise
  • Rental housing remains in high demand
  • New construction of single-family homes is on the rise

While the numbers show a gradual recovery, there’s still a lot of situations in which the housing economy may not reach the housing peak that it once was. Although, with those numbers being as unstable as they were, it’s possible that they may not be such a bad thing.

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IBS 2016: Innovation Starts at the End of the Channel

4 Feb

Why I’m Demanding a Disruption in Building Products Development

Trendsetters

It seems like every meeting I have been in over the last few months has the same common theme. When asking any building materials manufacturer what they want to be famous for, the one word I hear over and over is “innovation,” or being an “innovator,” or being “innovative.”

No matter the iteration of the word, they’re saying the same thing: they want to come to market with products that chart the path for the industry. The question is: what is anybody doing to really accomplish that? Just stating the word does not change the product development process or disrupt the industry with new and truly innovative products.

That’s why while I was at the 2016 International Builders’ Shower (IBS) and Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS), I was delighted to run across a company doing exactly that. Cosentino® is a building products company that develops stunning quartz and stone options for kitchen and bathroom surfaces. One of their products, Silestone®, is a beautiful high-end surface made of 94% quartz.

But what makes this product so innovative is not just the advanced bacteriostatic technology or its incredible resistance and durability, or even its numerous designs; it’s the way Cosentino develops those designs.

Through the support of their Silestone Trendspotters, a diverse group of top designers from across the country, Cosentino creates new looks every year inspired by some of the most cutting-edge and forthcoming designs in the market. How do they accomplish this? Cosentino goes straight to the other end of the channel to talk to the people using their product (and, presumably, their competitors’ products), and then gets their insights to develop a product that will set the course for tomorrow’s trends.

Let’s be clear: these designers aren’t just choosing colors. Manufacturers everywhere bring in a designer or two to pick out colors; that’s nothing new. The Trendspotters is a team of designers from all different places across the country, from different points in their careers (some veterans, some up-and-comers), from different styles and backgrounds, from different philosophies and clienteles.

Cosentino made a bold move in picking them, flying them to Italy, and turning them loose to work with engineers, product developers, and others on the manufacturing team to create a product they collectively thought reflected where design is headed. The magic of this is in how fearless Cosentino was in being open to the opportunity of what could be made when this diverse team of forward-thinkers got access to their resources, intelligence, and the inspiration of Italy.

Here are two of the new looks from the Etchings collections created this year by the Trendspotters:

  • Ink EtchInk: This jet black design is a classic, clean, and simple showstopper in most decor. By complementing the boldness of the Etchings design with a timeless shade, homeowners can feel confident their choice won’t go out of style any time soon.
  • AquaTint EtchAquatint: Look familiar? Our Art Director, Stephanie Voss, wrote a blog last year about how calming blue hues like Pantone’s Serenity will influence the building products industry in 2016. Proof pudding.

This approach to product development and design is brilliant precisely because it seems so obvious—but it’s not. Not everyone in building products is doing this. In fact, a lot of manufacturers either base their designs on focus group input or simply create designs based on studies published through standard trade outlets. Both options have their place, but are also inherently reactive—not always the best option for companies who seek to be innovative.

But who better to tell building products manufacturers at the top of the channel where design is going than some of the top designers in the country? By using these designers’ “on the ground” knowledge, Cosentino’s Silestone product is poised to set the tone for other designers and consumers in the coming years.

It takes time, energy, patience, investment, and courage to utilize an approach like this—an approach that empowers someone outside of your company to not only influence product design, but to create it. But that is true innovation. It’s listening, it’s using resources, it’s collaborating, and it’s understanding the channel on every level and using those insights to better your product and better the entire industry. Using focus groups and studies is also necessary for understanding today’s trends, but setting tomorrow’s requires further channel insights—exactly what Cosentino is doing with its Trendspotters.

I’m certain that this new line is going to be a hit, but I’m even more certain that the process will open the building products world to even more innovative creations.

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