One-hundred-twenty Alaskans made the trek to the International Builders Show in Las Vegas last week, along with over 100,000 other builders, developers, remodelers, bankers, economists, suppliers, and a potty mouth Jay Leno, who opened the show.
Three years ago, the IBS merged with the Kitchen and Bath Show and the Design/Build Week, creating the largest trade show in the U.S. In addition to the Alaskans, there were builders and developers from China, South Korea, and Europe.
Whether they were there to gamble, eat a Gordon Ramsey burger, or see a show, you could hear a lot of foreign languages on the escalators.
Although much of what was discussed and demonstrated was not applicable to the Far North, there were some definite similarities and take-aways for Alaskans. Alaska has its fair share of millennials and aging baby boomers — the two largest homebuyer groups in the U.S.
Unfortunately, within these two home buying groups, there’s a lot of differing demographics, based upon family status, age, and income. The groups include the young single, older single, single parents, young couple, mature couple, older couple, young family, middle family and mature family.
The take-away for Alaska’s builders, virtually all of whom build less than one hundred units a year, is to focus on no more than three of these market segments.
However, within our market place, there are some definite design trends that are noteworthy and applicable to Alaska. Like fashion, design trends change with the season, but there are some new ideas that will definitely last more than one season, even here in Alaska.
Remember gray walls? They’ve been replaced with a Benjamin Moore off-white that better reflects sunlight. Good news for us who all suffer from light deprivation this time of year. Granite countertops have been replaced with a quiet quartz with little or no movement in the pattern.
Selective wood accents have moved from the exterior to the interior with beams, barn doors, kitchen shelving, or a wood slab overlay on the quartz countertop. It’s a good contrast to the white cabinets that 80 percent of all homebuyers are selecting.
The kitchen remains the heart of the home and that is not likely to change. However, more and more it looks like any other living area of the home with sleek, under mounted appliances. Can’t afford quartz? Try thick, four to six inch laminate countertops on an island with a waterfall side to the floor.
And about that island: it is an island, not a peninsula, and must be six feet long, enough to seat at least four. The bi-level island is absent because it costs more to build and spatially interferes with small living spaces, particularly in the entry level condo market.
And remember those plate glass mirrors in bathrooms? They’ve been replaced with a simple painted wood frame made onsite. Or, a Pier One fancy framed crystal mirror, chosen by the buyer. Because, the number one takeaway from the show is that whether it’s an entry level condo or a million dollar custom home, it is all about buyer personalization.
Buyers want to make their own selections. The smart Alaskan builder will build a model home to demonstrate the latest in home design/interiors and then let their specs sit after dry wall so buyers can personalize their interiors to their specific tastes and homebuyer group.
Connie Yoshimura is the broker/owner of Dwell Realty. Contact her at 907-646-3670 or [email protected]