What Centra Builds and For Who

Dale Wills

Last Updated: March 1, 2024

At Centra Capital Partners, we have come to understand that demographics play a critical role in shaping the preferences and needs of homebuyers.

Through careful study of market research data, we found notable patterns tied to buying cycles related to age demographics. For instance, spending tends to peak around age 44—coincidentally the average age of a Harley Davidson customer—and then gradually declines as people accumulate assets over time. There is also an uptick again at age 84, which aligns with the average age for entering assisted living facilities.

Back in 2008, one lesser-discussed contributing factor to the housing market collapse was that the smallest demographic in the United States was 44 years old—the peak spending age—which meant less money was being funneled into various sectors including housing.

The largest demographic today is in their 30s: individuals looking for houses where they can start families and expand their living space. This shift contributes significantly to our current need for housing across America. However, every market is unique; Minnesota experiences trends different from other states due to seasonal migration patterns post-retirement while states like Utah exhibit more stability due to larger average family sizes.

Understanding these nuances allows us at Centra not only to build homes but also create communities tailored specifically for each unique market based on its demographic makeup and evolving buyer preferences—ensuring we are not just constructing houses but crafting homes that resonate with those who live within them.

Homes That Reflect Life's Changing Seasons

One demographic that stands out in our target market is empty nesters—a group defined by having no one else left in the nest. These are typically couples whose children have moved out, and as a result, their needs have evolved significantly from earlier phases of life.

Empty nesters are often looking to simplify their lives. They are seeking ways to reduce stairs, downsizing from homes where they raised their families to spaces that require less maintenance and cleaning.

However, there is a delicate balance to strike because these individuals also carry a lifetime of memories with them. For example, they may struggle with the idea of parting with a large dining room table that has been central to family gatherings for years—despite it not fitting into a smaller home.

This demographic tends to start in the early 50s and can extend well into the 70s and 80s. They are ready to let go of larger yards and excess space but face an emotional process when trying to find homes that accommodate single-level living without giving up on spaces where family memories can continue being made—for holiday celebrations, birthdays, or just casual visits from grandchildren.

We recognize the diverse needs of our buyers and the importance of understanding their distinct lifestyles and financial situations. Here are a few of the buyer-types we regularly deal with:

First-Time Home Buyers

Our typical first-time buyer usually falls into the late 20s to early 30s age bracket, although there are certainly exceptions. These individuals might be part of a couple or navigating the process on their own.

As they are just embarking on their careers and have likely saved diligently for a down payment, perhaps with assistance from family gifts, affordability is at the forefront of their considerations. They're typically more focused on what they can manage for monthly payments rather than specific styles or types of products.

When it comes to careers, first-time buyers come from all walks of life. We find that career choices often correlate with location—more construction workers and tradespeople as you move towards the outskirts and rural areas; more professionals in technology as you get closer to cities. The shift towards remote work has also led some tech workers to seek homes further out where they can get more space for their money.

Growing Families

As for growing families, these buyers are entering a new phase in life. They have usually owned a home before and have built up equity. With increased earning power and experience in their careers, they now desire more space—a larger backyard, an area to entertain guests—and look for features that accommodate an evolving lifestyle.

Single Parents

Single parents face unique challenges as they balance full-time jobs with raising children. For them, simplicity is key—they often search for communities where external maintenance is taken care of so that they can focus on their children and careers without worrying about mowing lawns or shoveling snow.

Young Professionals

Lastly, young professionals are often very career-driven and invested in cultivating relationships. Their housing needs may align closely with those of single parents in terms of seeking simplicity and convenience; however, their focus lies heavily on lifestyle choices that allow them freedom to pursue passions such as advancing in their careers or building social connections.

Understanding these different buyer types helps us at Centra develop properties that not only meet our clients' immediate needs but also support them through future transitions. Whether it is providing affordable options for first-time buyers or creating spaces that grow with families, our goal is to cater to each demographic's unique journey through life.

Product Types for Every Demographic

We see all different demographics of buyers attracted to various products at different times. While we might overgeneralize it, there are certainly reasons why someone might be attracted to a product that is not typically associated with their demographic.

Single-Family Detached Homes

Our single-family detached homes come in a few different options. For instance, we have single-family detached homes that may have a fairly small yard with community maintenance or those with larger yards for the dog and kids' swing sets.

When we offer the single-family detached with a smaller yard, this typically attracts young professionals or single mothers. On the other hand, homes with larger yards usually draw first-time buyers, or if the house is larger and more expensive, it attracts move-up buyers. The main factors driving these preferences are based on the size of the yard, its maintenance requirements, and the size of the home to meet their needs.

Usually, on smaller lots, our homes range from about 1,600 square feet to about 2,100 square feet—comprising 3 to 4 bedrooms, two and a half baths, and a two-car garage.

Small/Large Two Story Homes

As for larger lots and larger two-story homes, we are seeing more like 2,100 square feet to 3,000 square feet plus with basements in some homes.

With basements included you might find five or six bedrooms due to an increased desire for more bedrooms—not necessarily because family sizes are larger—but because people are working from home more often now and they need space for his and her offices.

In terms of garages - especially in Minnesota – there is a significant demand for three- or four-car garages compared to markets like Las Vegas or Phoenix where they are not as common. This is very much weather-driven since nobody wants to chisel ice off their windshield on winter mornings.

Our lot sizes vary too; on the smaller side of detached homes, they can be as small as 5,000 square feet while on the larger end we do not typically go much beyond about 15,000 square feet. This still provides ample space for outdoor activities without being unmanageable.

Attached Homes

When it comes to attached products like townhomes or condos, there is some nuance. Townhomes typically mean you own the ground underneath your unit whereas with condos you only own your unit itself.

They typically appeal to a wide range of buyers, but also call out to single parents who appreciate low maintenance living due to busy lifestyles and young professionals who value lifestyle simplification; as well as first-time homebuyers who are looking at affordability options.

Alley-Loaded Homes

Alley-loaded products create an aesthetic appeal by hiding garages behind houses which allow us to narrow down product widths without creating streets dominated by garage doors fronting each property.

Typically, in many residential areas, when you drive down the street, you are greeted by a series of garages. This is particularly noticeable in homes that are about 20 to 25 feet wide, where the facade is mostly taken up by a two-car garage. The result is a streetscape that lacks visual appeal, often described as unsightly or even ugly.

Alley loaded homes offer an innovative solution. In this design, garages are relocated to the back of the house, accessible via an alley or a street running behind the homes. This rearrangement allows for the front of the house to present a more welcoming and attractive appearance, featuring elements like porches and windows, rather than a row of garage doors.

Slab on Grade vs. Basement

When it comes to home construction, one of the fundamental decisions revolves around the foundation type: opting for a slab on grade or a basement. These two approaches have distinct characteristics, benefits, and drawbacks, influenced greatly by regional preferences, environmental factors, and cost considerations.

In the Mountain West areas like Idaho, Utah, and Colorado, as well as much of the Midwest, basements are a common feature in homes. However, this trend changes as you move towards the West Coast and the South, where basements are less frequent. The prevalence of basements often depends on the ground conditions and the feasibility of excavating in those areas.

One significant advantage of basements is their cost-effectiveness in terms of additional square footage. Building a basement can add substantial living space at a fraction of the cost compared to building the same area above ground. For instance, adding a basement to a 1500 square foot single-story house can double the living space for only 20 to 30% more cost, offering an economical way to expand a home.

Building With Client Lifestyles in Mind

Each type of housing appeals differently based on what stage buyers are at in their lives—empty nesters may prefer single-level living with an optional basement while move-up buyers look for spaciousness inside and out including features for entertaining guests as well as accommodating growing families' needs including separate bedrooms for children and office spaces for adults working from home.

Designing our products also means considering specific desires within demographics—for example women often focus on master suites and kitchens while men may prioritize garage sizes—and how these areas can best serve each group’s unique lifestyle requirements.

How HOA’s and Community Maintained Properties Fit In

We understand that the concept of "community maintained" properties, which are often part of a Homeowners Association (HOA), can be a key feature for many buyers. An HOA typically encompasses all homes within a designated area and is managed by elected members from the community itself. The responsibilities of an HOA can range widely, including managing trash collection, snow removal, lawn maintenance, and upkeep of communal spaces like planter beds and trees.

For attached products such as row townhomes, the HOA usually takes responsibility for exterior maintenance. This ensures uniformity in appearance, as individual choices could lead to a patchwork effect that detracts from the overall aesthetic appeal. In some communities, additional amenities might include a shared pool or park areas.

We recognize that preferences toward HOAs are divided—some enjoy the consistency and ease they bring to property maintenance, while others prefer more personal autonomy over their home's appearance. At Centra Homes, we cater to those who value the convenience of not having to worry about external upkeep. Our approach ensures that our residents can enjoy their homes without being burdened by the responsibilities of exterior maintenance.

Buyer Needs Drive Amenity Choices

When considering amenities within our properties, we tailor them to match buyer demographics. Families may prioritize walk-in closets in bedrooms for easy storage solutions or double ovens in kitchens for cooking enthusiasts. Countertop materials are chosen with durability in mind—granite being popular among growing families due to its resistance to damage.

Master bedrooms and luxury features like soaking tubs are also factored into designs based on buyer preferences. While not everyone makes regular use of a bathtub, it remains a sought-after feature for those who envision it as part of their ideal home.

Garage space is another amenity where preferences vary significantly; larger garages accommodate storage needs ranging from seasonal decorations to bicycles and lawnmowers. Fireplace installations create ambiance desired by some buyers despite infrequent use—especially in warmer climates where practical usage is limited.

Keeping up with current trends in home design is essential here at Centra Homes; styles evolve over time just as preferences do. We strive to build homes that withstand changing fashions while still appealing to contemporary tastes—whether it's cabinet finishes or color palettes.

Embrace Technology

On technology integration within our homes—we have explored various smart home features extensively but found consumer desires highly individualized when it comes to tech amenities. As such, rather than standardizing technology offerings, we allow homeowners to personalize this aspect according to their own lifestyle requirements.

Match Design Choices With Buyer Needs

With regard to customization options—we have learned through experience that limiting selection choices leads to greater customer satisfaction overall. We once offered extensive customization but observed a direct correlation between the number of options selected and decreased happiness among buyers due mainly to unmet expectations regarding how certain choices would materialize visually within their completed home.

We offer streamlined selections designed around what most people will enjoy based on popular trends and cost considerations—a strategy which has led not only to happier customers but also improved profitability for us and our investors due partly to fewer errors during construction phases leading to reduced costs overall.

Ultimately whether you are looking for something specific like paint colors or layouts—we present our homes with tried-and-true selections aimed at satisfying broad homeowner desires while minimizing stress associated with too many choices during the buying process.

We have noticed that the biggest trend for remote workers is the need for more bedrooms. People are now looking for homes with adequate space to accommodate a home office, or even multiple offices, as couples often work from home simultaneously. The demand for good internet has also surged, as reliable connectivity has become a non-negotiable aspect of remote working.

In response to these needs, we have observed a migration pattern where people are moving further out from cities in search of larger homes and yards that offer more value for their money. However, as buyers venture into more rural areas, they encounter the challenge of less reliable internet service which is crucial when working from home.

The design evolution within homes has been quite significant. Where we once saw houses with formal living rooms and dining rooms alongside family rooms and kitchens, trends have shifted towards open-plan living spaces. What used to be a formal living room has transitioned into a flex room—adaptable as an office, piano room, or additional lounge area.

Today's homeowners prioritize having an office space that can be closed off for privacy and noise control—doors are essential to keep out distractions like barking dogs or children at play. Additionally, storage solutions such as closets in office spaces have become desirable for organizing office supplies and maintaining a clutter-free work environment.

As we consider these changes over time, it is fascinating to see how every ten years marks a new cycle in housing trends driven by demographic shifts. For example, millennials initially gravitated towards city life for its walkability and convenience but later moved to suburbs as they settled down and started families.

Now this same demographic is entering another phase where they are looking for second homes that offer more space both inside and outside—the features they compromised on in their first homes are no longer optional but necessary.

The Remote Work Era and Homebuilding

Remote work has introduced new considerations in home design—not just whether there is enough space but also whether there is suitable internet infrastructure to support this lifestyle change. This trend wasn't prevalent ten years ago but has since become integral to our planning process.

What we have seen in the last few years since Covid is that a lot of businesses and workers are reinventing themselves and finding that it is easier to work remotely than they had realized. We are seeing some of those in the technology industry moving further out into rural areas or the edges of the suburbs because they can work from home and often can afford more house.

Predicting what will happen next is challenging; who could have foreseen something like Covid-19 impacting our lives so profoundly? Yet here we are, learning and adapting to these unforeseen circumstances which have reshaped our communities—sometimes for the better. Remote working arrangements have proven beneficial for many individuals while presenting challenges for others.

The Incredible Value in Following Demand and Supply Driven Trends

Looking ahead ten years feels uncertain; however, given the substantial influence millennials have on our economy through their innovative perspectives and contributions, it will undoubtedly be intriguing to observe how their evolving needs will shape future housing trends.

It is not just about construction techniques; it is about aligning with our clients' lifestyles and regional preferences. Whether it is ensuring affordability and extra space with basements or adapting to local conditions with slab foundations, our commitment is to build homes that meet diverse needs, providing safety, comfort, and value to every homeowner.

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