The AIA’s Home Design Trends Survey for the first quarter of 2012 reports an optimistic outlook for residential architectural firms. Key aspects of the survey attempt to illustrate the trending situations compared with previous quarterly surveys. Perhaps the most enlightening aspect prevalent throughout the majority of the survey topics is that growth is beginning to shake off the declines of the housing downturn. More details after the break.
During the housing bubble, the average house size was inflating along with house prices. Following the crash, new home sizes began sliding with the economy. The current report indicates that the trend for declining areas is leveling, and in certain sectors of the American market even edging up slightly. With many people choosing to reside in their current homes rather than moving up or building brand new homes, property enhancements are becoming a key investment for homeowners. The survey indicates that nearly two-thirds of respondents are seeking improved outdoor living spaces. Landscaping and harvesting improvements are key features that homeowners are choosing to implement.
In terms of business conditions, 35% of residential architecture firms reported an increase in billings over the fourth quarter of 2011, compared with 43% who reported a flat line over the same period. While the numbers may seem modest, the numbers represent the strongest increase in billings in nearly five years. Firms located in the Northeast and Midwest exhibited the strongest gains in terms of average billings.