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April 29, 2019 Experts Corner

Key drivers behind new Greater Hartford residential development

While new construction permits were down 33.51 percent year-over-year for January and February, new developments are still seeing success.

For some buyers, the inability to find resale inventory that meets their needs is pointing them toward new construction, while others are driven by the reputation of the specific developer.

Regardless of what is leading buyers to new construction, the fundamentals of successful new development remain consistent — put your resources behind delivering what buyers want most.

Demand for walkable communities remains strong

The popularity of new developments such as Kingswood Place and Arlington Place, nestled within walking distance of West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square, don't come as a surprise to those who follow the data on what buyers are looking for.

The National Association of Realtors reports 62 percent of Millennials have a preference for walkable communities. Further, more than half of Americans are willing to trade a bigger yard for a location that lets them walk to community amenities.

The desire for walkable communities encompasses everything from single-family homes to condominiums and apartments.

In South Windsor, the Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk are now home to Tempo, a luxury apartment development that is anchored by the mantra “Live. Dine. Shop.” In addition to delivering on walkability, Tempo also touches upon another key attraction for renters and buyers alike — the alluring lifestyle concept.

There is an audience for lifestyle concepts

When Edgewater Hill in East Hampton first broke ground in 2014, it was slated to be a community of condominiums and single-family homes in close proximity to retail.

The plans included expansive green spaces and aimed to deliver a walkable lifestyle. Fast-forward to 2018, and ground was broken on the new home of the town hall, police station and board of education offices at Edgewater Hill.

This community within a community is reflective of what today's buyers want: a home that makes it easy to live, work and play in their own back — and front — yards.

Eco-friendly living has appeal

In the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Realtors and Sustainability 2018 Report, 61 percent of Realtors indicated that homebuyers had an interest in sustainability. And, while it is easy enough to add Energy Star appliances to an existing property, buyer demand for green features and amenities runs far deeper.

Many developers are building today's homes to be Energy Star rated or Zero Energy Ready, carrying the theme of “being green” from the windows and lighting to the heating and cooling solutions.

The 2019 survey of recent and prospective homebuyers conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found that better insulation, energy-efficient lighting and Energy Star-rated windows and appliances ranked tops for helping achieve buyer goals for energy efficiency. Further, more than half of respondents gave essential or desirable rankings to “indoor air quality features.”

As the spring residential real estate market gains momentum and more new development comes to market, the communities where demand outpaces supply will be those equipped to meet the wants of today's buyers.

By keeping walkability, sustainability and the desire for a live-work-play lifestyle top of mind, developers can help ensure strong interest when they bring new inventory to market and defy overall market trends.

Candace Adams is president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties, Westchester Properties and New York Properties.

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