Homebuyers Seek Spacious, Connected Communities

Current conditions are driving homebuyers to seek greener, more flexible, high-performing designs 

By ALEX MCLEOD

Similar to generations before, people—in particular Millennials that are forming families—are choosing to move to the suburbs in search of clean innovative home designs, and neighborhoods with both a sense of community and that allow for comfortable, socially-distant interactions. Mixed-use neighborhoods that allow families to stay connected with walks to get take-out, bike rides and hikes on trails, and street-oriented private porches or courtyards that can host socially distanced get-togethers, have homebuyers rethinking where and how they want to live. Master-planned community developers and homebuilders are providing these innovative new home solutions that cannot be found in the resale market.

Health and Well-being

COVID-19 has accelerated the value that homeowners place on healthy living with a balance of work, life, and play. With consumers seeking new, spacious, and sanitary homes, there is now a desire for a high-performance, green-built home that may include HEPA-filtered air ventilation systems, and antimicrobial or easy-to-clean surfaces such as quartz countertops.

In the recent stay-at-home period, people are relaxing by exploring the outdoors, either in solitude or with friends and family. Residents in Newland’s Briar Chapel community in Chapel Hill, NC, can explore 900 acres of preserved natural wildlife onsite. One of the original
“agrihoods,” Briar Chapel features a half-acre of community gardens that lets residents build outdoor social connections by growing organic vegetables and flowers. Well-being isn’t just focused on humans. Newland creates spaces for dogs, including dog parks, trails to walk your dog, and even dog baths for when they go off-roading.

COVID-19 has accelerated the value that homeowners place on healthy living with a balance of work, life, and play.

Home Designs with More Space, Flexible Uses

From being able to store and inventory big bulk items to bringing generations of family together in multigenerational housing, new home construction is adapting to the need for not just more space, but flexible space that adapts to a family’s need. A sensitivity to keeping homes clean has sparked a renewed demand for mudrooms combined with laundry functions to provide a clean-up option on entering the house. Dining rooms and flexible rooms like dens and extra bedrooms are easily transformed into home offices and at-home-classrooms that can easily morph back or into something new later. The car may even get kicked to the curb as families may make use of garage space for a home gym, storage, private work-from-home, a game room, or entertainment space.

Families are choosing to buy homes a few blocks apart in a Newland community or even to share a home. At Nexton in Charleston, SC, New Leaf Builders created a unique courtyard home with privacy and flexibility to include a casita that makes an excellent guest suite for long-term visitors or multigenerational living.

A Fresh Approach to Community Amenities

From a community development perspective, a shift toward smaller gathering spaces includes fire pits, outdoor pizza ovens, and pocket parks with individual seating for smaller interactions. These “third places,” whether passive or active, are woven throughout our communities so our residents can choose how far they want to go from their home.

Outdoor fitness pods, like the ones at Wendell Falls in the Raleigh market or at Bexley in the Tampa market, along with surfaced trails, are a community mainstay as homebuyers seek safe, accessible fitness options. Walking remains the most popular form of recreation for all of our homebuyers groups, and the use of hiking and biking trails has increased three-fold in the last few months.

Part of every Newland community is a carefully planned trail system that joins amenities, parks, and houses to provide a sense of connectivity that homebuyers crave for daily recreation.

Community, Connectivity and Convenience

Sometimes as builders and developers, we focus only on the tangibles—the floorplans, streets, landscaping, commercial sites, and amenities. In envisioning a Newland community, we consider the uniqueness of the land and nuance of each market. The evolving customer preferences drive the style and mix of uses in the communities we build—but how residents live evolves over time.

Many of our communites have a mixed-use component that is now more important than ever, which allows for optimal living and connection with all the needed sevices close-by, including medical services, retail, grocery, restaturants, and dry-cleaning to name a few.

Every new homebuyer becomes a neighbor who is an integral part of a broader community. At Waterset in Tampa, Fla., a drive-by celebration for a returning soldier shows gratitude for service to the nation. Socially-distanced food drops keep the Feeding Tampa Food Bank filled to help those that may find their pantries empty. And like our trails, chalk drawings weave in and out of all of our communities along sidewalks and show spirit, hope, and encouragement to all residents wanting to live the way that matters most to them. At Newland communities, we create exceptional places where people connect, are inspired, and thrive.

Alex McLeod is the Regional President for Newland and responsible for community visioning, entitlements, planning, marketing, and devel-opment strategy for the eastern region of the U.S.