Urban Real Estate Trends

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Trying to decide whether to buy a new home in the suburbs or in the city?  The ultimate goal should be to buy a home that will withstand market changes. In the major cities, urban real estate trends are often guided by a surge in infill development.  What is infill development? When it comes to urban development and planning, infill is the use of land within a built-up area for future construction as a part of community redevelopment. Its focus is reuse and re-positioning of obsolete buildings, renewing blighted neighborhoods so that they may again become prosperous neighborhoods.

Real Estate - Home & Realty Magazine

When it comes to living in the city, home buyers will definitely spend more.  Urban infill developments demand much higher per square-foot prices compared to their suburban competitors, but some buyers are willing to pay for the added convenience of being centrally located closer to work, shopping, restaurants and nightlife.  With the escalated price of gasoline, buyers are headed back to the city because of the potentially long commutes and expense.  Some buyers can save even more by not having to own a car because of this convenience.  Think New Yorkers and their use of public transit and good old-fashioned walking.

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Builders are creating designs with simple, clean lines circa 1960’s modern design with a modern-day edgy twist. They add imaginative lighting fixtures and hidden lighting sources.  Also, the use of creative built-ins that work double-duty such as large flat-screen televisions that swivel between rooms or double-sided fireplaces. Uniqueness but functionality and space efficiency are key trends. Kitchen trends include lesser use of granite, losing its appeal because it is not “special” anymore in the eyes of some buyers.  Silestone, a form of quartz, is gaining major popularity for its fantastic durability.  For bathrooms, vessel sinks are sinking in the popularity poll as well. Sinks that are larger and flatter and built-in to the vanity are making a comeback, but much sleeker versions are being designed. For the shower, rain shower heads are being installed in ceilings instead of walls.

Color schemes throughout the space are rebounding back to soft, cooler earth tones.  These colors are more relaxing and provide flexibility when changing your seasonal decor. I am seeing tons of gray, taupe, varying shades of blue and green and less of the warmer colors such as yellow, red or orange.

Eco-friendly “green” homes are becoming the rage as buyers prefer solar energy, not only for the planet, but for their wallets as well.  Natural fiber or eco-friendly wood flooring, compact fluorescent and LED lighting and energy-efficient high-end appliances are also added amenities seen in the newer “green” spaces. There is even a plug in some garages to plug in an electric car.

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To me, the epitome of city living is having a spacious loft. In many cities, this is the design of choice. Lofts offer work/live space, which is generally multi-level.  The main level is usually an open space that can be used as an office, warehouse or place of business.  The upper levels feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows and the views make it very desirable to buyers. Exposed ventilation and duct work with virtually no walls separating living spaces, such as bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens allows for a more relaxed and transparent environment.


Single and savvy professionals are purchasing city homes together and splitting the mortgage.  Higher prices in the city make qualifying on a single home more difficult. Financially, to these singles, buying versus renting is the logical choice for them.  Singles also love the fact that downtown areas offer walking distance to work, shopping and nightlife.

Real Estate - Home & Realty Magazine

Another hot demographic of city home buyers are the baby boomers.  Once the children are grown and leave the suburban home, the extra space they leave behind can be unrealistic. There is way too much upkeep as well. These suburbanites desire to be closer to the downtown attractions and down-sizing to a smaller space that is newer and offers more conveniences is a major selling point for them.

Ultimately you have to weigh out the pros and cons of living in the city as opposed to the suburbs. City living may seem more expensive, but in the essence of productivity, time and access to services in some buildings such as concierge, shuttles, health and fitness centers for residents, as well as having public transit, retailers and businesses right outside your front door, you may actually be saving precious time and money with all of those modern conveniences at your fingertips.