a backlog, so now that we’re into the spring building season, builders are getting very busy again.
Our building material suppliers are anticipating robust business into the summer. Remodeling activity is still particularly robust, due in part to the lingering effects of 9/11 when people started staying at home more and investing in their homes. Low interest rates are also helping, plus they’re creating a real sellers’ market, with so many qualified buyers out there. Even with the latest concerns stemming from the war and economic jitters, there’s a guarded optimism among builders.
Biggest source of concern for builders:
The biggest concern is, “Are we going to be able to continue to build?” and that’s due to regulatory constraints. We’re a “home rule” state — in Massachusetts, every community has its own zoning board and permitting authority. And there’s a real shortage of work force housing in the state. So builders are trying to effectively work with the legislature and local communities to get new homes built.
A lot of communities have imposed two- and three-acre zoning requirements, and sprawl is a big concern. Governor Romney’s battle cry when he was elected was that we needed to build more homes near transportation centers, and do more infill. But that’s proving very difficult to get done. Conservation groups, moratoriums, zoning issues and community opposition are all factors to deal with.
Home values are so strong that many baby boomers are thinking the time may be right to sell and move to an active-adult community or condo. A real estate professional I know recently predicted that active-adult projects “will be the trend of the decade,” and I agree. We’ve just re-started a New England Seniors Housing Council, and I think it’s going to be very popular.
What’s interesting is that the active-adult communities being built are a whole different ballgame from your stereotypical seniors’ development. One developer told me, “We used to put in walking paths and Bocci-ball courts, but that’s not what people are looking for anymore. Now our buyers are riding Harley Davidsons!” Especially popular are the higher-end adult communities, where the only age requirement is that one person in the household is 55 or better. These communities are laden with amenities, and often are condos.
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