Monday, February 13, 2006

Why High Rises, Lofts, Row Houses And Other “Urban” Products Rock!

Across the country a growing number of home buyers are electing to buy in the city vs. buying in the suburbs; apparently reversing a trend that has been popular for decades. This direction change is so powerful that home builders which historically built only in the ‘burbs are aggressively expanding into the “urban” market (e.g. KB Homes recently opened an urban division and Engle Homes purchased Artisan Homes, a small builder known for building unique “loft style” and other such urban communities). One can hardly pick up a newspaper without reading about the boom in residential high rise, mid rise, and loft construction. “Urban” communities are shooting up all over the city and new projects are being announced weekly. What the heck triggered this phenomenal change?

In his popular book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell writes, “The Tipping Point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” He further postulates that this tipping point occurs when a number of different factors, independently moving in the same direction, converge thus triggering a powerful response. If the urban trend has experienced a tipping point then contributing or converging factors may include: sky high gasoline prices; people becoming more concerned (slowly) with the environment; investment in new city amenities (e.g. new convention centers, theaters, sporting venues, mass transit etc.); the lackluster performance of the stock market; a hunger for architecturally interesting dwellings; a growing desire among home buyers to simplify their lives; the aging of our Baby Boomers; the growing affluence of our Baby Boomers; the growth in the number of workers “telecommuting;” and PERHAPS a reevaluation of priorities on the part of buyers today.

Bottom line, we all work way too hard and enjoy our lives way too little. The days of driving 45-60 minutes each way to work and back have gotten really old. Any product that can truly make my life more pleasant will get my attention. High rises, lofts, and other urban communities offer safe and secure, cool designed “non-cookie cutter” dwellings, conveniently located near our jobs and unique restaurants and small non-corporate bars and fun shopping and movie theaters and coffee shops and museums and other arts and sporting events and so much more. The allure of high rises and lofts is that we get to have a life.

Now, if the developers will keep the prices at least at a somewhat affordable level, we might see some real changes in this country. Heck, charge me a premium for the privilege of getting my life back, just don’t charge so much that you suck all the wind out of the sails of this movement.

Will Daly, a Realtor with RE/MAX Excalibur in Phoenix and owner of the marketing labels and combines years of experience, a thorough understanding of current real estate markets, and cutting edge technology to provide his clients the best advice for proven results. He specializes in Loft and High Rise Development/Sales and Condo Conversions. You may reach him directly at (480) 510-8755 or by visiting his blog at

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