It’s been a rough half-decade for homebuilders, realtors & other people associated with the housing industry. Not so much for one group: folks who own rental property. According to the “State of the Nation’s Housing” report published by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, it’s a good time to be a landlord. Some points made in the report:
The number of renters has surged by 5.1 million, the largest decade-long increase in the postwar era.
This spike has happened despite the fact that the typical renter – young, starter, post-college echo-boomers – are moving back in with their parents in record numbers due to lack of good jobs rather than striking out on their own.
Rapidly rising demand has cause a spike in rental rate increases.
That’s why the landlords are happy. And that’s why we’re optimistic that home-building will be back strong in the coming year: we’re the affordable alternative to those higher rents.
Care Cottages, Nationwide’s newest offering, and one we feel has a great future. We displayed our first in Iowa (see the movie here), and brought a second to the MedTrade Show in Atlanta last year. MedTrade is a large product showing for the home healthcare industry. We showed off our 600 square foot, fully accessible cottage. These cottages, sometimes known as “Granny Flats” are designed to be brought onto a property near the main home to provide independent space for a family member that needs medical assisted living.
We were the hit of the show, and it taught us a bunch about the home healthcare industry, and industry that is growing rapidly as a result of the aging population. We learned that statistically, people live longer when they’re able to stay with family versus an assisted living center. We learned that home retrofit is a huge business, but one fraught with plenty of negative side effects. One specialist who visited us at Medtrade said something that made us proud of our Care-Cottage development: There are two alternatives if a family has someone who needs an assisted living alternative: Bring them home (and often modify the home for them) or institutionalization. Now there’s a third option with Care Cottage. And it’s a rare situation where there is an option – like Care Cottages – where it’s both the most overwhelmingly preferred of the three, while also being the least expensive.
What’s the biggest difference between those who build modular & those who build old-fashioned on-site? We like to say: Those who build modular took the time to learn the difference. If that’s our belief, it becomes important for us to help people learn what modular is all about. To make it effective, learning has to be fun.
So we created the “Modular Experience” design center located in Greensboro, NC. This 3,600 square foot structure is an interactive center that shows the secrets of HiPerformance Construction in a fun, no-hassle, no-pressure atmosphere. Over a dozen television monitors – like a sports bar for home-building – flash video images of homes during & after construction. Visitors can see side-by-side footage of homes built in our controlled, factory environment versus the rain-soaked chaos experienced in on-site construction. After touring the Modular Experience Center, visitors can explore 4 furnished models, including our show-stopping Eco-Cottage.
Plumbers might hit the endangered species list!
At Nationwide Homes, we’re hearing stories from builders about a troubling trend. Though there are many causes, it comes primarily as a result of the recent housing crisis. The trend: A dramatic reduction in skilled tradesmen, including plumbers. With little construction activity, tradesmen have had to find other means of work or have left the industry altogether. Some might shrug this off & state: “When business comes back, the trades will come back.”
I’ve read some articles that conclude that it won’t be that simple (see one here). The article & the study referenced show a larger picture of the state of plumbers in this country. Put simply: Skilled trades, like plumbing, are not careers being pursued by the younger generation. It doesn’t seem evident that there will be enough entering the pool to offset the large number likely to retire from an aging generation of skilled plumbers.
Couple this potential shortage with the expected building recovery, and it could make it even more expensive, difficult and time-consuming to build in the traditional, on-site manner. With modular home construction, however, most of the plumbing is done in our production facility, making this manner of construction less dependent on the supply-and-demand of independent trades.