As someone who’s always looking for a silver lining, it’s no surprise that I have examined the housing slump and determined that sure enough, it has one. This silver lining, however, has many layers. The layer on the outside, which is easiest to see, is that the bottom dwellers, who had no business being in business, have moved on to pursuits other than remodeling, building or designing homes. The next layer, and perhaps just as easy to see, is that homeowners who had no business owning homes, no longer own homes and can cause no additional damage to themselves or others for the immediate future.
A deeper look into the silver lining reveals a layer comprised of an increased interest in good home design. In the buyer’s market that has existed for many years, homeowners have learned that they do not have to settle for mediocre design. As a result, they are more selective when choosing remodelers and are far more demanding of the ones they choose. I’ve heard it many times during these past few years that remodelers, builders and designers have ignored traditional warning signs and have accepted business from clients to which they would have said, “No thank you” to years ago.
Clients have come to expect high levels of design, because if they don’t get it from one remodeler, they will shop around until they find a remodeler willing to give them the biggest bang for their precious buck. If you can look beyond homeowners’ demanding attitude, we can see an appreciation and expectation of good home design, which is great. This has required remodelers to either improve their design skills or lose business. As I see it, everyone wins.
Interest in good design should have existed long before the housing slump, but ultimately I’m glad it’s here, late or not. Remodelers attuned to market nuances like this are using design as a way to differentiate themselves from their competitors, and are succeeding. Hopefully, this interest in good design will stick around well after the housing market is back on solid footing.
Another layer to the silver lining, as I see it, is that remodelers have been forced to become better sales people. This layer, like the design layer, is the result of consumers’ attitudes and presumptions that a buyer’s market entitles them to squeeze every percentage of profit out of remodelers. Successful remodelers have had no choice but to improve their abilities to properly set expectations while standing their ground rather than giving up the proverbial farm by bowing down to every demand homeowners make.
Setting expectations is part of the sales process, and it’s remodelers’ jobs to tell homeowners exactly how the project will flow, and how far they’re willing to bend to make them happy.