Whether you’re planning on selling or buying a home this year, or are just making some updates to yours, knowing the latest trends can help you make smart decisions.

William Raveis
A turn-key property in Darien, CT, currently listed by William Raveis

Prioritizing Convenience
Buyers want homes that are easy to maintain, in tight-knit neighborhoods with maximum walkability, according to real estate experts. “The current trend is for smaller homes and closer to town,” says Arnold Karp, President, Karp Associates in New Canaan, CT. While previous generations of buyers spent their weekends working on their new homes, Millennials just aren’t interested. “Today’s buyer, especially the younger ones, does not want to do much work, if any. They also don’t want to deal with the maintenance of an excessively large property or home,” says Jake Fay, Senior Sales Manager, William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage and Insurance. Like the sales market, the rental market is also seeing a premium put on finishing touches that make living easier. “In addition to walkability, renters want luxury amenities, says Thomas Rich, President of the F.D. Rich Company in Stamford, CT. “First-class, 5-star hotel-style amenities are an absolute must. From the gym to the 24-hour concierge to the community rooms and doggie pet spa, today’s renters want it all.”

Anyone who’s ever owned and maintained a home knows that in addition to location and size, the age of a home can dictate how easy it makes life. Which means turnkey properties—or those renovated to become like new—are in high demand. Stuart Disston, Partner, Austin Patterson Disston Architects in Southport, CT, says he’s seeing both frequently in his practice. “Our new projects in Fairfield County at this time are predominantly renovations—clients who have lived in their houses for a period of time want updates as they have decided to stay instead of looking for new properties,” says Disston. “Our new Westchester projects, on the other hand, are new construction for young clients moving out of the city.”

Karp Associates
New construction by Karp Associates in New Canaan, CT

Modern Interiors and materials
Interiors are leaning towards more modern looks. “We’re seeing a move towards a clean, transitional/contemporary look, while the exteriors may continue to have a more traditional appearance that fits with the existing neighborhood,” says Robin Carroll, Lead Project Manager, Karp Associates.

Part of that futurized interior look is attained by using newer, high-tech materials. For instance, Douglas VanderHorn of Douglas VanderHorn Architects in Greenwich, CT, says LED is turning up everywhere. “LED lighting offers superior and dynamic brilliance, a significant energy cost savings over alternatives, as well as a diverse selection of fixtures and installations.”

In addition to lighting, modern, eco-friendly materials are at the tops of buyers’ and renovaters’ lists. “Making a connection between design choices and one’s health leads many homeowners to seek options such as radiant heated floors, low-VOC paints, sophisticated water filtration systems, air-purifying HVAC equipment, ‘green’ furniture, organic upholstery and bedding, and natural wool floor coverings,” says Olga Adler of Olga Adler Interiors in Westport, CT.

Custom built-ins
Custom built-ins by Lara Michelle Beautiful Interiors

Full Customization
Interior designers and architects agree that clients are asking for one-of-a-kind customization for every aspect of their homes. Lara Michelle of Lara Michelle Beautiful Interiors says her clients are requesting bespoke built-ins and cabinetry. “Our clients want fancy mudrooms, large walk-in closets with islands, unique TV units, and custom bathroom vanities,” says Michelle. And basements aren’t just for storage and a bare-bones “man cave” anymore. Says VanderHorn: “Today owners have grand ideas about how to utilize basements. We have been creating resort-like game rooms, saunas, home gyms, theaters, lounges  and wine walls.”

Photos by (Austin Patterson Disston) ChiChi Ubiña; (William Raveis) Ree Ann Macachor; (Karp) Alan Kun; (Lara Michelle) Chuan Ding;