Life preservers are the hot new housing amenity

As many as 311k homes face being flooded every two weeks within the next 30 years—this is the finding of research recently released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The research was based on the rate of growth projected the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which includes six feet sea-level rise by century’s end if our current emission rate continues. But these 311k homes by 2045 are just the beginning, according to The Guardian:  

The losses would multiply by the end of the century, with the research warning that as many as 2.4m homes, worth around a trillion dollars, could be put at risk. Low-lying states would be particularly prone, with a million homes in Florida, 250,000 homes in New Jersey and 143,000 homes in New York at risk of chronic flooding by 2100.

The researchers combined cross-checked the affected areas with Zillow property data, estimating that $120bn worth of property will be dealing with chronic flooding by 2045. But again, this is the tip of the proverbial melting iceberg: chronic flooding will fill basements, close roads, and shut down commerce, grinding economic regions to a standstill. Continue reading “Life preservers are the hot new housing amenity”

Affordable AF: video recap of Pizza + PropTech (5/30/18)

Last week, Dror Poleg and I hosted our first ever Pizza and PropTech event in NYC. We had a great turnout and will be doing another in July. Be sure to sign up to my newsletter for updates.

While you’re counting down the days until July rolls around, check out our talks.

All the single families (all the single families)

For the better part of 80 years, the dominant type of new construction in the U.S. has been suburban, single-family housing. In a CityLab article from a couple years ago, Richard Florida wrote:

  • 60-70% of existing homes are in low-density, suburban areas (less than four homes per acre). Assuming an average household size of 2.54 people, that’s around 10 people/acre. For comparison sake, Manhattan has 112 people/acre.
  • 90% of homes built since the 1940s have been in low-density areas.
  • In the 2000s, 23.3% of new homes were built in undeveloped areas (aka “greenfield”), 33.2% were in areas with a prior density below one home per acre, and 31.9% were in areas with a prior density between one and four homes per acre.

This development trend is as much a function of the regulatory difficulties of building in cities and their immediate outskirts as it is a viable business model for the suburbs—conditions like high infrastructural costs and taxes, high (personal autos) transit costs, and limited economic opportunity plague many suburbs.  

The above are some reasons why suburban poverty growth is far outpacing cities and rural areas. And despite a median sales price of an existing single-family home being a modest $257k, factors like flatlining wages and high rates of debt for both school and auto loans have led to a suburban affordability crisis—evidenced by record low homeownership rates.

This is why any housing solution in America that excludes the suburban, single-family home is incomplete. Here are a couple such solutions that are rocking the suburbs. Continue reading “All the single families (all the single families)”

Where did I put that gosh darn shaker of salt?

Everyone is like millennials this, millennials that. Yes, there’s a lot of them. But they’re broke and, despite their Tinder-swiping ways, they ain’t reproducing.

If you want to get excited, look to Boomers. They’re plentiful too, well-heeled (at least relative to millennials), and many of them are looking for compact, age-appropriate crash pads before heading off to heaven.

Some folks foresee a mass senior downsizing, calling it the silver tsunami. And one person who’s got his surfboard ready is Jimmy Buffett.

Buffett has already built an empire leveraging his white-bread, inebriate beach-bum brand for everything from Broadway musicals, themed restaurants, and 11 Margaritaville hotels. Now Margaritaville Holdings is partnering with senior-specialists Minto Communities to offer up two 55+ communities dubbed LATITUDE MARGARITAVILLE (all caps for easier reading). Continue reading “Where did I put that gosh darn shaker of salt?”

Oh what a feeling when you’re sleeping on the ceiling

Back in 2011, MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places Group started their CityHome project, which explored how data and technology could make living spaces more flexible, efficient, and reflective of use patterns. Eventually, the group built a prototype micro-apartment with sensor-enabled, gesture and app controllable furniture; the centerpiece of which was a module containing a bed, table, kitchen, storage and other stuff.

The CityHome was part of a larger movement. Mostly focused on micro-apartments (sub 350 sf), this movement saw how furniture could play a critical role in spatial design. Other players included LifeEdited (where I worked for several years) and Yo! Home—the residential arm of Yo! Companies/Yotel/Yo! Companies.

Anyway, fast forward a few years and some of the MIT students decided to bring the tech to the free market. Thus Ori Systems was born. Continue reading “Oh what a feeling when you’re sleeping on the ceiling”

Pizza + PropTech with David Friedlander and Dror Poleg

If you’re in NYC on Wednesday, May 30–or need an excuse to visit–come out to Pizza and PropTech. Dror Poleg and I will be giving short talks discussing the latest in real estate trends. You will be rounding out the conversation and consuming pizza. Please join us.

Purchase more info and tickets here. 

Space analytics, starchitecture, construction tech and more on Dislocation Podcast

When I’m not blogging, I’m talking into microphones (I do lots of other stuff too). Last week, I spoke into one of those microphones with my friend and fellow consultant Dror Poleg. In our half-hour podcast, we cover:

  • On-demand office venture Convene’s acquisition of space analytics firm Beco.
  • WeLive’s foray into starchitecture with the hiring of Bjarke Ingels.
  • Google’s Duplex and its implications for real estate.
  • How SB 827’s death might presage a wave of pro-housing policy reforms.
  • The recent $45m investment in Entekra and what it could mean for the advancement of construction technology.

Affordability is the freaking amenity

If you have an hour to fill and are interested in the intersection of design and affordable housing, you could do a lot worse things than watch this talk at Harvard’s School of Design’s Reframing Housing from a few weeks ago (below). The panelists represent some of my favorite designy, affordable projects of the last decade or so. Each represents a way to develop in a different urban (or non-urban) condition and all the considerations that condition entails. All are worth knowing about if you don’t already.

From Philly, there was architect Brian Phillips. His shop, ISA, has done of a ton of cool infill projects that incorporate a variety of cost-saving, energy-saving, design-savvy stratagems for affordability. ISA is the design force behind Postgreen homes, makers of the 100k house, a LEED platinum townhouse in Philly’s East Kensington neighborhood that was built for $100/sf. Postgreen—powered by ISA—has done a bunch of similar project with names like Awesometown and Avant Garage. Continue reading “Affordability is the freaking amenity”

Much ADU about something

Around 76% of American housing is single family. One solution to adding affordability and density to this commodious architectural form is accessory dwelling units, aka granny flats (because grandpa, you know, lives underground). ADUs are basically little houses you can toss in your backyard—they can be used by family, a tenant, or Airbnb. They’ve been gaining popularity particularly in California and Oregon, each state lending crucial legislative support.

But a lot of folks paying a mortgage can’t necessarily afford to build a second home, which can easily run $100K+.

Portland-based startup dubbed Dweller has a solution for this shortfall. According to the CityLab, “Dweller fronts the cost of purchasing and installing one-size-fits-all prefabricated ADUs in backyards. Third-party property managers rent out the unit to long-term tenants, and Dweller splits the revenues 70-30 with the homeowner, almost as if the company is leasing the land.” Homeowners can buy back ADU at any time or can purchase one of the prefabs outright.  

Continue reading “Much ADU about something”

Are we over-sharing (housing)?

Last Spring I caught wind of a project called ONESHAREDHOUSE, a self-initiated effort by superstar creative agency Anton & Irene. OSH explored concepts in coliving, inspired by Irene’s formative years in a Dutch lesbian co-housing arrangement (they also made a badass interactive documentary that you should check out). OSH caught the attention of SPACE10, a Copenhagen-based, IKEA-funded “future-living lab” that is tasked with detecting trends that might affect the furniture behemoth’s business in the years to come. One of those trends is “shared living,” and the two parties collaborated to make ONESHAREDHOUSE2030, a research project exploring the future of shared living.

SPACE10 was in NYC this last week and held an event the other night in Brooklyn, which I attended. Some takeaways:

Continue reading “Are we over-sharing (housing)?”