Post 2: Younger Generation Demands
This one I found particularly interesting. The built environment that we know today – seemingly endless, unplanned, car-dependent, urban sprawl – was shaped by the demands of the Baby Boomer generation; this environment is now being replaced by the demands of the Gen-X, the Gen-Y, and Millennium generations. In their quest for a “better balance of work and life,” the newer workforce wants flexible work hours and to play more, which is realized in a built environment by workplaces that are clustered around public transportation nodes and near lots of entertainment and dining options.
Due to the pressures of the economy and recession, companies are rightsizing their workforce. Because more work is being done online, there is less of a requirement for storage space. And because of flexible work hours and telecommuting options, the workforce is commuting less to an office. All of these market forces translate to a correction in demand for office space. “Companies are looking at nontraditional office space like townhouses and storefronts because the younger workers do a lot of brainstorming and teamwork, and these nontraditional types of buildings are popular with those tenants.”
While this is true for office (commercial) space, it remains to be seen whether the same market forces will have downward driving impact on the demand and the size of houses. Recent articles that I have read state that the new jobs being created in this economy are relatively low paying, retail positions, and with the younger generations graduating with $23,000 in student loan debt (on average), the potential for this sector of the population being able to afford to buy the houses of the Baby Boomer generation as they retire, downsize, and want to sell their houses, remains to be seen.
In terms of quality of construction, it is worth noting that the large McMansions that have been the rage since the early 2000s, and the construction of which has been used as an indicator to determine the health of our country’s economic condition, for the most part have been constructed with contractor-grade materials which have a lifespan of between 15 and 20 years. As the cost to replace and upgrade these materials begins to evidence itself, we will soon begin to see the ability of homeowners to keep up with the required maintenance on these large structures beginning in 2015 and soon thereafter.