Real Estate and Design Trends to Watch in 2024

From ecosystem conservation to “new” darker neutrals in exterior paint, we look at the trends set to take hold in the industry this year.

Three Key Takeaways

  • Advise buyers that nobody should copy trends for their popularity since they change over time; a better approach is to seek joy.
  • Aging boomers have more options to choose among, from staying put with features that aid safety to going to a facility with specialized care.
  • Landscapes that conserve nature and shelter pollinators and wildlife are designed for private backyards and shared communities.

Staying abreast of what’s new and innovative in design and real estate is important, not to be trendy but to learn about innovative materials, systems and products to live more sustainably and benefit the planet. Also, new uses for rooms can maximize square footage and our surroundings to add joy to our lives. The following 10 trends are worth considering since they can positively influence whether homeowners reside in single- or multifamily housing.

Homeowners Are More Apt to Stay Put

With interest rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage still high, home prices holding steady and inventory still low, many homeowners plan to stay put, optimizing or expanding their existing square footage. Laurel Vernazza, Home Design Expert at The Plan Collection— Scarsdale, N.Y.-based company that sells pre-drawn plans—says that for those with no plans to move, the wish list includes:

  • Sustainable features
  • Accessory dwelling units as zoning laws change
  • Pickleball courts
  • Remodeled basements with saunas
  • Media centers and game rooms
  • Home offices as working from home continues
  • Outdoor space, not just at ground level but above as well
  • AI-driven technology to make homes easier to use and more energy-efficient

Why now? Homeowners want to be active but decrease maintenance and energy consumption. They favor sustainable materials sourced locally to pare carbon footprints and support local businesses, which is especially true for millennials and Generation Z. Many materials reflect better waterproofing, and garages may have room for battery back-up systems if power goes out, says architect Jonathan Boriack, AIA, LEED AP, principal with KTGY in Oakland, Calif.

Specialized Needs for an Aging Population

Architectural firms like The Architectural Team (TAT) outside Boston are designing facilities for specialized needs, such as The Cordwainer, which will have private and double rooms and a host of amenities including a two-story atrium, performance center, game room to stimulate the brain, and memory care garden. The bedrooms will be divided between two neighborhoods so residents can safely wander, says TAT architect Anthony Vivirito. Also critical is light to help with circadian rhythms and mood. “Biophilic elements and the focus on unique spaces for invigorating activities and entertainment required stepping away from traditional practices,” says Tamilyn Liesenfeld, president and CEO at Anthemion Senior Lifestyles, which owns and operates The Cordwainer in Norwell, Mass.

man tending to a raised garden bed outside a multifamily community

Why now? With aging boomers numbering 76.4 million, more attention is paid to their housing needs when they can’t stay at home, which includes many of the estimated 6.7 million who have Alzheimer’s disease.

Smaller Single-Family Homes and More Townhomes

Variety is the spice of homebuilding. Currently, homes are shrinking in size(link is external), with the median for single-family houses at 2,261 square feet and the mean square footage of new single-family homes down to 2,469, according to the National Association of Home Builders. One of the most popular styles is the ranch house. The style also offers the flexibility to be opened up indoors and to the outdoors, according to Vernazza. Attached townhomes and stacked flats have gained popularity due to the need for smaller square footage in dense sites, says Boriack.

Why now? The main reasons(link is external) for smaller single-family homes are high mortgage rates and lifestyle changes that favor fewer bedrooms. As far as townhomes and stacked flats are concerened, the economics of for-sale property works with current market finances more for developers than rentals do. Land shortages make attached and stacked units smart choices.

Bigger Apartments

At the same time that single-family homes are shrinking, apartments are increasing from an average of 870 square feet before the pandemic to closer to 1,000 square feet, says architect Sean M. Stadler, FAIA, LEED AP, a managing principal with WDG Architecture’s Washington, D.C. office.

Why now? Many renters want more space to work from home and favor more bedrooms, if they can afford, Stadler says.

Homeowners Want Sustainable Energy Use

Sustainability isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s growing in popularity, and received a boost in January 2023, when the Department of Energy(link is external) announced federally backed incentives to help builders make DOE-certified Zero Energy Ready Homes their standard. An example of a builder focused on both energy efficiency and lower construction waste is Netze Homes, based outside Dallas, which uses steel that it recycles from cars. It claims its houses are 20 times stronger than those built from wood. Since the frame is built in a factory to exacting specifications, the homes are tighter and the resulting lower air exchange makes them more efficient.

Multifamily modular stacked building

Why now? Sustainable homes do a better job of withstanding extreme weather, are fire-resistant, and curb termite damage, wood rot and mold. Energy-efficient homes help residents save up to 35% on their electric bills and cut 40% of waste since the frame is formed in a factory. These homes have lowered carbon emissions by 50% against the industry average, proponents say.

Luxury Spec Building Demand is on the Rise

The demand for spec luxury houses and townhomes continues, particularly in South Florida, according to J.C. de Ona, president of the southeast division of Centennial Bank. Waterfront sites are particularly desirable. “Some demand may have softened so that there now may be 10 to 20 buyers rather than 100 at a house, but it’s still strong and prices remain up,” he says. Favored features include a modern design with flat roofs, wood detailing, a pool, an open plan and beautiful kitchens, he says.

Why now? After slowing from 2012 to 2014, spec building has picked up, due to an uptick in migration. Jose R. Boschetti Jr., managing partner of The Boschetti Group in South Miami, Fla., also sees demand from buyers wanting a minimalistic design and maintenance-free living with artificial turf, porcelain floors, smart features and pools in close proximity to the house to maximize indoor/outdoor connection.

An Abundance of Multifamily Amenities in Small Buildings

People are still looking for features in smaller buildings, says architect Joshua Zinder of Joshua Zinder Architecture + Design in Princeton, N.J. His four-story, six-unit, mixed-income building, Nelson Glass House, reflects the trend of “amenity creep” that has “percolated down to smaller buildings,” he says. Units have terraces, shared parking, bike storage, “Zoom rooms” for online meetings and a ground-level coffee shop. “Having just a good location doesn’t cut it anymore,” he says. Other popular amenities, he says, are a grocery store, pet trail, package center, and lounge and lobby for interaction—sometimes with classes—and electric vehicle charging stations.

Aerial view of a multifamily complex with playground, field and community center

Some buildings use amenities like EV stations to add revenue, according to Swtch Energy, an EV charging solutions provider that works with multi-tenant properties. Many buildings add programming through a property management company like FirstService Residential, says Katie Ward, the company’s regional president for Texas. The trend has evolved that property management doesn’t just plan space but creates a culture to tailor connections to needs through events, she says.

Why now? Amenities allow smaller buildings to compete with bigger ones, retain residents and attract newcomers, says Stadler. One challenge is having amenities that are appealing when a building opens, since the timeline for delivery may be five years.

A Continued Focus on the Kitchen

The kitchen remains the heart of the house with old trends in force along with new ones gaining traction, says designer Mick De Giulio of de Giulio Kitchen Design outside Chicago. Induction cooktops continue to increase in number, in part because new homebuilding regulations in certain municipalities require phasing out gas ranges for safety and sustainability, according to The Plan Collection.

De Giulio says an organized, walk-in pantry; more light through big windows or LEDs in warmer colors; artisan and hand-crafted features such as hand-scraped wenge wood; and a mix of materials like German silver, stainless with special finishes, and bronze are popular, as well as the island.

Modern kitchen with light cabinetry and deep red accents, table instead of island in the center

Why now? In most cases, the kitchen is one of the most used, most seen rooms in a home. People are still eager to congregate in the kitchen, and within the space, certain trends stand out. A kitchen redo makes sense since, if it’s done well, it can last 30 years, though appliances may need to be replaced along the way, De Giulio says.

Natural, Native Landscaping as a Priority

Whether in communities or private backyards, homeowners want to conserve ecosystems. In smaller communities, even in urban settings, variations of the conservation community or “agrihood,” like Pendergrast Farm in Atlanta, are emerging. The 20 energy-efficient, solar panel–ready homes, wired for EV charging stations, will have a Home Energy Rating System rating of 50 that will use 50 percent less energy than comparable new homes. Seventy percent of its land will be preserved for woods and a working farm.

A large, two-story home surrounded by lush, natural landscape

In private backyards, “rewilding” uses native plants to create habitat. Hillary Peters with Mariani Landscape in Lake Bluff, Ill., says this trend is popular among clients who are interested in restoring ecosystems and biodiversity. By bringing native plants to a landscape, homeowners can create a space that meets needs and supports wildlife.

Why now? Such communities bring together features that reflect homeowner interest in conservation, and the scarcity of land makes this viable. Likewise, homeowners are aware of their impact on their environment and the need to protect wildlife. Any little bit helps, Peters says—installing a birdhouse or water feature or using native plants and grasses makes a difference.. She advises against cultivars, which do not always serve pollinators.

“New” Neutrals for the Exterior

Neutral colors are more popular, says residential and commercial color consultant Amy Wax in Montclair, N.J. “They are a safe choice, offer the opportunity to decorate a home with more emphasis on landscaping, give homeowners the chance to market their home without having to repaint and are not the subdued hues of the past,” she says. Many neutrals are even darker, such as midnight blue, charcoal gray and true black for drama.

Photo of the exterior of a two-story home in slate gray

Why now? Dark exterior accents express confidence with a bold street presence. Adding a periwinkle blue front door or taxicab yellow or hot pink accent is fair game. Durability should be weighed since darker colors may fade, so it’s best to apply paint with a subtle sheen to protect surfaces.

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2024 Goals? Your Home Equity Can Help!

If you’ve owned your house for at least a couple of years, there’s something you’re going to want to know more about – and that’s home equity. If you’re not familiar with that term, Freddie Mac defines it like this:

“. . . your home’s equity is the difference between how much your home is worth and how much you owe on your mortgage.”

That means your equity grows as you pay down your home loan over time and as home values climb. While it’s true home prices dipped slightly last year, they rebounded and have been climbing in many areas since then. Here’s why that price growth is good news for you.

In the latest Equity Insights Report, Selma Hepp, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, explains:

With price gains continuing to help homeowners build wealth, equity has reached a new high and regained losses that resulted from declines last year. And while the average U.S. homeowner gained over $20,000 in additional equity compared with the third quarter of 2022, some markets are seeing larger increases as price growth catches up.”

And that figure is just for the last year. To help you really understand how that number can add up over time, the report also says the average homeowner with a mortgage has more than $300,000 in equity. That much equity can have a big impact.

Here are a few examples of how you can put your home equity to work for you.

1. Buy a Home That Fits Your Needs

If your current space no longer meets your needs, it might be time to think about moving to a bigger home. And if you’ve got too much space, downsizing to a smaller one could be just right. Either way, you can put your equity toward a down payment on something that fits your changing lifestyle.

2. Reinvest in Your Current Home

And, if you’re not ready to move just yet, you can use the equity you have to improve your current home. But it’s important to consider the long-term benefits certain upgrades can bring to your home’s value. A real estate agent is a great resource on which projects to prioritize to get the greatest return on your investment when you sell later on.

3. Pursue Personal Ambitions

Home equity can also serve as a catalyst for realizing your life-long dreams. That could mean investing in a new business venture, retirement, or funding an education. While you shouldn’t use your equity for unnecessary spending, using it responsibly for something meaningful and impactful can really make a difference in your life.

4. Understand Your Options to Avoid Foreclosure

While the number of foreclosure filings remains below the norm, there are still some homeowners who go into foreclosure each year. If you’re in a tough spot financially, having a clear understanding of your options can help. Equity can act as a cushion if you’re not able to make your mortgage payments on time.

Bottom Line

If you want to know how much equity you have in your home, connect with Stovall Team today. We will complete a professional equity assessment report on how much you’ve built up over time and talk you through how you can use it to help you reach your goals.

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Thinking About Buying a Home in 2024?

If you’re thinking of buying a home this year, you’re probably paying closer attention than normal to the housing market. And you’re getting your information from a variety of channels: the news, social media, your real estate agent, conversations with friends and loved ones, the list goes on and on. Most likely, home prices and mortgage rates are coming up a lot.

Here are the top two questions you need to ask yourself as you make your decision, including the data that helps cut through the noise.

1. Where Do I Think Home Prices Are Heading?

One reliable place you can turn to for information on home price forecasts is the Home Price Expectations Survey from Fannie Mae – a survey of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists.

According to the most recent release, the experts are projecting home prices will continue to rise at least through 2028 (see the graph below):

So, why does this matter to you? While the percent of appreciation may not be as high as it was in recent years, what’s important to focus on is that this survey says we’ll see prices rise, not fall, for at least the next 5 years.

And home prices rising, even at a more moderate pace, is good news not just for the market, but for you too. It means, by buying now, your home will likely grow in value, and you should gain home equity in the years ahead. But, if you wait, based on these forecasts, the home will only cost you more later on. 

2. Where Do I Think Mortgage Rates Are Heading?

Over the past year, mortgage rates spiked up in response to economic uncertainty, inflation, and more. But there’s an encouraging sign for the market and mortgage rates. Inflation is moderating, and here’s why this is such a big deal if you’re looking to buy a home.

When inflation cools, mortgage rates generally fall in response. That’s exactly what we’ve seen in recent weeks. And, now that the Federal Reserve has signaled they’re pausing their Federal Funds Rate increases and may even cut rates in 2024, experts are even more confident we’ll see mortgage rates come down.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.comexplains:

. . . mortgage rates will continue to ease in 2024 as inflation improves and Fed rate cuts get closer. . . . a key factor in starting to provide affordability relief to homebuyers.”

As an article from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

Mortgage rates likely have peaked and are now falling from their recent high of nearly 8%. . . . This likely will improve housing affordability and entice more home buyers to return to the market . . .”

No one can say with absolute certainty where mortgage rates will go from here. But the recent decline and the latest decision from the Federal Reserve to stop their rate increases, signals there’s hope on the horizon. While we may see some volatility here and there, affordability should improve as rates continue to ease.  

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about buying a home, you need to know what’s expected with home prices and mortgage rates. While no one can say for certain where they’ll go, making sure you have the latest information can help you make an informed decision. Connect with Stovall Team 714.343.9294 so you can stay up to date on what’s happening and why this is such good news for you.

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Keys To Making Your Home Goals in 2024

If buying or selling a home is your goal for 2024, it’s important to understand today’s housing market, know your why, and work with industry experts to bring your homeownership vision for the new year into focus. Call Stovall Team today 714.343.9294.

Over the last year, the economy had a big impact on the housing market, and likely on your wallet too. That’s why it’s critical to have a clear picture of not just the market today, but also on what you want out of it when you buy or sell a home. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.comexplains:

The key to making a good decision in this challenging housing market is to be laser focused on what you need now and in the years ahead, so that you can stay in your home long enough that buying is a sound financial decision.

Here are a few things to think through as you define your goals for 2024.

1. Know Your Why

You’re dreaming about making a move for a reason – what is it? No matter what’s happening in the market, there are still many compelling reasons to buy a home today. Your needs may have changed in a way your current house can’t address, or you could be ready to step into homeownership for the first time. Use your why and your motivation as a guidepost in partnership with an expert advisor to make sure your move gives you a lasting sense of accomplishment.

2. Figure Out What Your Next Home Needs To Look Like

You know you want to move, but how would you describe your dream home? The number of homes for sale has grown recently, and that could mean more options to choose from when you buy. But overall housing supply is still lower than more normal years in the market, so you’ll have to work closely with Stovall Team to find what you’re looking for. Just be sure to keep your budget in mind as you balance your wants and needs. The better you understand what’s essential and where you can be flexible, the easier it will be to find a home that’s right for you.

3. Determine if You’re Ready To Buy

Getting clear on your budget and available savings is essential before you get too far into the process. Partnering with a local agent and a lender early is the best way to make sure you’re in a good position to buy. This could include planning how much to save for a down payment, getting pre-approved for a home loan, and assessing your current home equity if you’re selling your existing house.

A Professional Will Guide You Through Every Step of the Process

Buying or selling a home takes expertise to navigate. If that feels a bit overwhelming, that’s normal. Don’t let uncertainty hold you back from your goals this year. Stovall Team will help you bridge that gap and give you the facts and advice you need about today’s housing market.

Bottom Line

Work with Stovall Team now and build a team of industry professionals to be sure you hit your homeownership goals in 2024.

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11.16.23 Mortgage rates dip to lowest level since September

Mortgage interest rates declined for the third straight week, setting up the possibility of a small end-of-year rally for home sales.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 7.44% in Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, which is the lowest level since late September. The 15-year fixed-rate also dropped slightly, averaging 6.76% for the week.

That combination of economic strength, lower inflation and lower mortgage rates will likely bring potential homebuyers into the market, said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Lisa Sturtevant, chief economist for Bright MLS, agreed that more homebuyers may take advantage of the current conditions before year-end — but could end up disappointed because of the lack of inventory.

“For those homebuyers who can wait, the spring will bring more new listings and lower mortgage rates,” Sturtevant said.

If the economic data continues to trend in the same direction, another rate hike would be far less likely, said Economist Jiayi Xu. She expects mortgage rates to continue their steady decline in the final weeks of the year.

For NAR Deputy Chief Economist Jessica Lautz, Pitbull lyrics — “It’s going down, I’m yellin’ timber” — came to mind when looking at the downward trend in mortgage rates, which she believes will build momentum. And although inventory is low right now, homebuyers may benefit from less competition, she said.

“[Late fall] might be a calmer season to home shop before rates fall into the 6% range in spring and pent-up demand floods into the market,” said Lautz in response to the rate drop.

Even with a steady decline in mortgage rates, confidence continues to erode for the nation’s homebuilders. The National Association of Homebuilders’ confidence index fell six points to 34 in November. It has fallen 22 points since July. But if mortgage rates continue to trend down and existing-homes inventory remains low, confidence should begin to rise in December, said Robert Dietz, NAHB chief economist.

Builders may be uncertain, but homebuyers appear to be feeling more confident, with mortgage applications rising 2.8% this week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Applications are still sitting at relatively low levels, however, as mortgage rates above 7% make for a challenging market, said Joel Kan, MBA’s deputy chief economist.

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The Latest 2024 Housing Market Forecast

The new year is right around the corner, and you might be wondering if 2024 will be the right time to buy or sell a home. If you want to make the most informed decision possible, it’s important to know what the experts have to say about what’s ahead for the housing market. Spoiler alert: the projections may be better than you think. Here’s why.

Experts Forecast Ongoing Home Price Appreciation

Take a look at the latest home price forecasts from Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), and the National Association of Realtors (NAR):


As you can see in the orange bars on the left, on average, experts forecast prices will end this year up about 2.8% overall, and increase by another 1.5% by the end of 2024. That’s big news, considering so many people thought prices would crash this year. The truth is, prices didn’t come tumbling way down in 2023, and that’s because there just weren’t enough homes for sale compared to the number of people who wanted or needed to buy them, and that inventory crunch is still very real. This is the general rule of supply and demand, and it continues to put upward pressure on prices as we move into the new year.

Looking forward, experts project home prices will continue to rise next year, but not quite as much as they did this year. Even though the expected rise in 2024 isn’t as big as in 2023, it’s important to understand home price appreciation is cumulative. In simpler terms, this means if the experts are right, according to the national average, after your home’s value goes up by 2.8% this year, it should go up by another 1.5% next year. That ongoing price growth is a big part of why owning a home can be a smart decision in the long run.

Projections Show Sales Should Increase Slightly Next Year

While 2023 hasn’t seen a lot of home sales relative to more normal years in the housing market, experts are forecasting a bit more activity next year. While expectations are for just a slight uptick in total sales, improved activity next year is a good thing for the housing market, and for buyers and sellers like you. As people continue to move, that opens up options for hopeful buyers who are looking for a home.

So, what do these forecasts show? The housing market is expected to be more active in 2024. That may be in part because there will always be people who need to move. People will get new jobs, have children, get married or divorced – these and other major life changes lead people to move regardless of housing market conditions. That will remain true next year, and for years to come. And if mortgage rates come down, we’ll see even more activity in the housing market.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about buying or selling, it’s important to know what the experts are forecasting for the future of the housing market. When you’re in the know about what’s ahead, you can make the most informed decision possible. Connect with  Stovall Team to chat about the latest forecasts, and craft a plan for your next move.

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