Tag Archive for: flexibility

Flex Space Defined

It’s no mystery the last two years have altered home design in new construction forever, but what remains to be seen is whose tastes will prevail over the next decade or so. The millennial generation, albeit the largest group of homebuyers, are still but a fraction of the whole. What may work for this age group, might not for other generations like X, baby boomers, etc. Since 2020, the emergence of flex space has become popular and has gained traction, notably for those seeking a home on the market.

Flex space is simply an area within a home that’s able to evolve with the needs of its owner. Its essential elements are flexibility, versatility and evolution. These elements are key! Depending on the daily, weekly or yearly needs of a homeowner, how can the home respond? If you ever doubted residences had life within them, disbelieve no more. Flex space breathes more life into homes than we ever could have imagined, but a short while ago. And it goes beyond residential properties and home design. This concept has lived within the confines of commercial real estate for decades, a hybrid of office and industrial space.

What makes flex space within a home attractive though is its ability to alter the interior of the home without changing the structure of it. There are no additions needed, and quite frankly, with distribution channels and contractor timetables the way they are for the foreseeable future, this is another longer-term solution available to homeowners looking to upgrade their homes.

It’s important to reinforce, this concept/trend isn’t for everyone. As stated above, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all remedy to new construction nor updates to a home. When flex space is infused into a property there’s a specific intent in mind. Just as a kitchen is the center of many homes and there’s a particular purpose for that space, flex space likewise gives greater meaning to a room. If the room becomes less functional, it ceases to be a flex room and becomes a forgotten space. The room that once served a purpose, might now contain a bed, a computer monitor and about a dozen or more tchotchke items. This is one of the downsides to this concept and the de-evolution of a room, if you will. If it starts to serve little purpose, in the end, it will mirror nothing more than a glorified closet or storage spot.

When it doesn’t include the flexibility, versatility and the ability to evolve, the space will become like any other room in the house, or worst yet – the definition of clutter. Flex space should never be used as a bonus room. Build upon it, yes, but don’t settle there. There is a danger in having a multipurpose room cease to perform as such and resemble a failed attempt to maximize space. While maximizing space and functionality are certainly important when considering flex-ability in the home, significant thought should be given to what’s most important for homeowners and their families. How much time are they spending at home? Are they working from home as well? Having a plan is vital with this design trend, which will remain a permanent expectation for buyers, according to realtor.com’s chief economist, Danielle Hale.

The needs of homeowners in addition to buyers are presently driving design and of course, this trend is an off-shoot of that. There are many ways this concept is flourishing in real estate in 2022, including home offices which double as libraries, playrooms which are also guest rooms or home theaters that morph into family rooms including a wet bar to entertain guests. The absolute best use of flex space in the home though is when we use the three principles of flexibility, versatility and evolution and merge them with technology and home automation. Quite honestly, this is the direction this trend is headed, especially with younger homebuyers. We can identify it as true “flex space.” Joe Wheeler, co-director at the Center for Design Research demonstrates how this trend is evolving and what we can expect in the not-so-distant future:

Flex space is an interesting concept, to say the least. What are your thoughts about this trend and how do you see it playing out in your residence over the next decade or so?

Virtual Components of Real Estate

Flexibility quite often was an issue over the years within the real estate industry. Whether it was buyer representation or technological advancements, evolution occurred at a painstakingly slow pace. As someone who witnessed the latter, it was obvious how subpar response to consumer need and demand had taken place. I hope we’ve learned our lesson, but even so I have my skepticism.

Nevertheless, technology has come a long way: More recently, real estate tech has closed the gap, providing homebuyers and sellers more options for both searching and showcasing properties. We’ve experienced a deviation in how consumers are approaching digital content as a whole. Smart devices, cord-cutting, social media and videography have provided opportunities for real estate companies to connect with consumers earlier in the process. There’s more flexibility for REALTORS® as they brace, and I do emphasize brace, for 2021. Virtual home tours (or virtual open houses) and virtual staging are two advances I wish our industry had rolled out a few years ago. The industry, as a whole, wasn’t as proactive as it should have been. I argue, it took a pandemic to force the change.

Virtual home tours are a fantastic way for connecting buyers and sellers in a post-COVID world. With PAR guidelines as they presently exist, it’s extremely difficult to safely conduct and host an open house. More than one agent is required, almost certainly, not to mention the enforcement of PAR COVID forms/questionnaire prior to each and every party entering the premises. Then there’s social distancing, limiting the number of people who enter at one time, disinfecting the home, etc. New information has also been released from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), which suggests there might be an airborne component to transmission beyond a six foot distance. Needless to say, there are obvious challenges when hosting an open house right now.

The majority of homes listed in today’s market, like other products available online, should employ tours for prospective buyers. These home tours need to be dynamic, where users can engage with the property and gain a sense of what the space and rooms feel like. They should get a sense of the floors, ceilings, depth, closet space, foundation, among other things. After viewing the tour, they should almost presume they were physically onsite.

There’s a bright side to these obstacles though. With the onslaught of mobile technology and the strategic advantage of professional photography, virtual open houses are a superb way to capture buyers’ attention and expose sellers’ homes in an increasingly virtual real estate environment. Furthermore, being proactive in this new age of buying and selling is a smart move! Honestly, it’s good practice to have virtual home tours produced ready to go for buyers who either might not be able to access a home or might not want to access a home (because of distance or certain precautions being taken).

A second strategy the real estate industry is deploying these days is virtual staging sessions as well as virtual staging tech. These are terrific ways to connect with potential sellers. Homeowners receive guidance on how their homes can make an astounding first impression via virtual sessions, effectively staging them in this seller’s market. Staging strategies are shared through technology (Facetime, Facebook Messenger, Google Duo, etc.), from the property’s exterior (discussing landscaping and curb appeal) to highlighting key spaces within the interior, better equipping sellers for the road ahead. Tips presented by the agent can provide the homeowner with a leg up on the competition. Staging tech software and apps are also on the rise in 2020. Companies like Compass are beginning to use it, allowing consumers to see something other than vacant rooms as they search. By selecting a few key rooms, now agents, through the use of virtual staging software, have the ability to otherwise showcase those empty, boring rooms, creating a totally different experience for buyers.

Though virtual components of real estate are extremely auspicious now, nothing can replace the sensory experience of a buyer – nothing. The texture of surfaces or the smells of the home or the make-up of the neighborhood cannot be reproduced on video. Ultimately, while we seek to utilize this technology in our market, physically bringing buyers into a property is the ideal – at the very least before an offer is submitted to the selling Brokerage.