I’ve been reading about dinosaurs lately. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaursby Steve Brusatte (a good read, BTW) tells how dinosaurs developed over billions of years, and how they died out – not once, but twice! With each mass extinction, many species vanished, while a few others – like tiny mammals – endured. Still others evolved with the times, living even today in different shapes and sizes. Did you know birds are living descendants of the dinosaurs? I didn’t.
Of course all this made me think about real estate – pretty much everything does – and especially so in this period of market transition. Are there parallels? I think so.
Here are my bold predictions on Dinosaurs, Survivors and Evolving Survivors.
Tall Skinnies?I think so. They won’t die out like dinosaurs – because of volcanoes the first time, or an asteroid strike, the second – but because of market forces. They are becoming overbuilt as our market slows down. There are just too many of them. Further, eventually they will go out of style. Everything does. In 20 years – probably sooner – no one will want them.
Ranches.Yep, ranches. I’m feeling a strong and growing market for one-level living – feeling it in my own knees as well as those of my fellow boomers. Ranches went into decline for a few decades, but are now coming back with a vengeance – if only because the living, sleeping, and bathing areas are all on the same level. Ranches were generally built on large lots, which implies tons of yard work most boomers don’t want, but witness the values in Crieve Hall and West Meade if you are looking for evidence of a strong market.
This one is tricky, but here goes …
MacMansions.Fifty years from now, someone, way out where the buffalo roam, may still be building 5,000 square foot whoppers on big lots, but I doubt there will be many. As wealth moves in closer to the city, gigantic, expensive houses will follow them. It’s already happening in neighborhoods like 12 South, and in “closer in” suburbs like West Meade and Green Hills. MacMansions are evolving – becoming more compact to fit on smaller lots, and shedding some of their more outrageous architectural offences. But they will still be big, expensive, sparkly, and new. Urban MacMansions.
Ranches. I may be out on a limb with this one, but I see the strong one-level living market driving changes in new construction. The appeal of the original ranch is really stair-free living. Things don’t absolutely have to be on one level if there are no stairs to climb. So, I’m seeing rows of townhouses designed to accommodate elevators. A ranch no longer, but evolved into a stair-free townhouse. Like a 40-ton dinosaur eventually becoming a bluebird.
We’ll see what happens …