From the New York Times:
FLUX and turmoil will not rule the state’s residential real estate market forever, as all market specialists agree. But what comes afterward?
“The question isn’t ‘When do things go back to normal?’ ” declared Rutgers University’s planning and public policy dean, James W. Hughes. “It’s ‘What will the new normal look like?’ ”
The short answer from the housing trend analyst Jeffrey G. Otteau: “very different.” Economic, financial and sociological changes now in progress will effectively morph the profile of the typical home buyer over the next 15 years, said Mr. Otteau, whose company, the Otteau Valuation Group, issues monthly reports on trends to subscribing brokers and developers.
“Most striking are numbers that indicate the typical buyer of the future will be childless,” Mr. Otteau said in a recent interview. “Either single, part of a childless couple, or with grown children.”
Another major change is that an overwhelming majority of buyers for at least a decade will consider “value” much more important than luxury features or amenities. Economic fallout from the collapse of various Manhattan financial institutions will affect the entire metropolitan region, keeping consumers in a value-oriented mind-set for the foreseeable future, or until new “economic drivers” are found, Mr. Otteau said.
He predicted that these two strong trends — childlessness and economy-mindedness — would combine to have a “topsy-turvy” effect on what has traditionally been considered the most desirable type of housing: the spacious single-family home in a suburban town with great schools.
Other factors increasingly important to buyers, as documented by both the Otteau reports and research from the Rutgers University public policy school, are energy costs, commuting time and the availability of mass transit. All these elements enhance the appeal of urban settings.
As for developers of the future, Mr. Otteau said they were likely to start paring down the amenities, especially as many are being forced to sell properties for less than it cost to build them.
That will be just fine with the buying public — who will “also demand smaller and more efficient housing with less glitz,” he said, “fewer open common areas, not-so-high ceilings, and not-necessarily-designer cabinets.”