4 Cultural Crossovers to Improve Sales | John Burns Real Estate Consulting

4 Cultural Crossovers to Improve Sales

In a recent webinar for our DesignLens™ clients titled Cultural Crossover 2020, Susan Yashinsky from Sphere Trending summarized four cultural shifts that builders and developers should incorporate in their designs. For our DesignLens™ members, we identify and analyze eight innovations each month. Below are great examples of trends recently featured on the DesignLens™ website:

Trend 1: Mega-Pairings

Consumers want to have it all. Today’s homes must balance seemingly contradictory expectations like function and flexibility or relaxed as well as formal.

  • Wanting it all. Shoppers are choosing to have it all by living surban™, combining the best of urban and suburban lifestyles. Examples include Avalon in Georgia and Downtown Brambleton in Virginia.
  • Pairing openness with concealment. Courtyards provide both openness and concealment, giving the home a more private outdoor living area. We have seen courtyards spring up in homes around the country, including more Mediterranean climates like the Newport Coast in California with New Home Company’s Coral Canyon at Crystal Cove, but also in less temperate climates like The Green Company’s Greengate at The Pinehills in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
  • Countering hectic lives with quiet spaces. New homes are increasingly integrating serene spaces into them, such as master retreats or reading nooks. Unique quiet spaces from past DesignLens features include a meditation room in Pardee’s Escala at Inspirada or an outdoor retreat from Toll Brothers at Adero Canyon.

Trend 2: The Currency of Intangibles

Consumers want sensory enlightenment in the home, memorable experiences in the community, social gatherings that foster real connections, and intelligent surroundings that make life easier.

  • The experience currency. Buying a home should be a great experience, not a painful process. Our CEO John Burns recently got a chance to tour the new Margaritaville sales office in Florida and was so inspired that he recorded his “Jimmy Buffett” experience.
  • The social currency. Consumers want opportunities to foster social connections.
    • In our recent podcast on four successful amenity trends, Ken Perlman taught us that social interaction especially resonates with younger home buyers.
    • Eastmark in Phoenix, developed by Brookfield Residential and DMB, creates social currency by hosting an annual Awesome Fest. Highlights from this free event include traditional fare like bands and performances as well as more unique attractions like a mermaid in a ball on the lake. How much social media attention do you think that gets?
    • Harvest by Hillwood offers residents “1,000 opportunities to gather.” Their on-site lifestyle manager brings residents together with events big and small, from yoga classes on the fitness lawn to a holiday tree lighting to a 5k run.
    • Social currency can even come from a unique amenity that brings people together like the stone-skipping spot on one of the lakes at Riverstone in Houston by Johnson Development. This charming feature brings out the kid in people old and young.

Trend 3: Chameleon Lifestyle

Society has shifted away from the traditional nuclear family roles. Consumers today wear multiple hats and need a home that reflects this new lifestyle.

  • Multigenerational spaces. Suites and separate casitas have become more prevalent. These segregated rooms can function for both adult family (older children or elderly parents) or for a tenant. We have seen these spaces included in higher-density detached homes like Trumark’s in-law suite on the ground floor of Boardwalk at Glass Bay in Newark, California, and in larger, family homes like the flat over the garage in West Park Collection by Miller & Smith in Brambleton, Virginia.
  • Working from home. With the gig economy and tech advancements that allow people to work remotely, we need to cater to people who work at home. According to our Consumer and Product Insights survey of 23K new home shoppers, 16% of new home shoppers work from home full-time, and 53% now work at least one day a week from home. Nationally, 41% of detached shoppers prefer a separate formal office. Create flexible offices that can suit your buyer needs with options for doors and varied locations in your different plans.
  • Flexible options. Shea3D™ exemplifies flexible options in a home. Plans are no longer limited by the kitchen location.
  • Build to rent. In another recent podcast, Dean Wehrli talks with guest Dallas Turner, the Chief Investment Officer who co-founded Invitation Homes, about the future of professionally managed and brand new rental homes. This is a growing trend that we are seeing pop up in for-sale masterplans. Look for more from DesignLens on this trend in the future.

Trend 4: New Cultural Renaissance

We live in a globally connected and diversified world, where consumers quickly become inspired by trends from all over the world.

Catering to the next gen. Health is increasingly important to young consumers. Thrive Home Builders is a production builder who has created relatively affordable net zero production homes within a traditional masterplan environment. They also created a whole series called Vita that has a health focus for the family.

To summarize: Trends travel faster now due to the internet, so it is more important than ever to stay on top of the latest and greatest trends. Those builders and developers who make decisions because “it worked last time,” may not be optimizing their profits. Let us monitor trends for you by subscribing to DesignLens™, which includes an invitation to our annual Design Summit.


Jenni Nichols If you have any questions, please contact Jenni Lantz, Manager at (720) 328-1530 or by email.
Mikaela Arroyo If you have any questions, please contact Mikaela Sharp, Consultant at (949) 870-1203 or by email.