Home builder Tarrick Love used to make a point of including a luxury tub in every master bath. No more. He recently completed a home for an owner who replaced the tub with a luxury shower with multiple jets.
"I told him, we just made you a body car wash," said Love, co-owner of Hart-Love Enterprises, a Nashville-based custom builder.
Tubs aren't the only items missing from many newly built or remodeled homes. Dining rooms are disappearing. So are bonus rooms in some floor plans. The size and shape of the American home is changing to accommodate owners who don't have time to soak in a tub and don't want to pay for spaces they seldom, if ever, use.
"If they don't use it, they don't want it," said Jen Lucy, director of sales for the Jones Co.
The home building company offers some floor plans with dining rooms, but they are designed to have multiple uses.
"It could be something else, a study instead of a dining room or a bedroom and bath," said Lucy.
As dining rooms disappear, kitchens are getting bigger. The typical American kitchen now has between 200 and 250 square feet of space, said Nino Sitchinava, principal economist for Houzz.
"It's the largest in the world," she said.
Houzz, a website and online community about interior design and decorating, architecture, home improvement and landscape design, has more than 35 million monthly users. Homeowners can connect with 1 million home improvement professionals through the site.
Pantries, either walk-in or built-in, are growing in popularity, said Sitchinava. Houzz has seen an "uptick" in the selection of engineered quartz countertops, but granite is still No. 1.
Large kitchen islands have replaced the dining room table, said Lucy.
"Big, almost table-size islands," she said. "The kitchen has become the fulcrum of the home."
Kitchens are designed to be open to the great room and are a center of family life and entertaining, said Love.
"We're starting to design homes around the kitchen," he said.
Randall Smith, president of Celebration Homes, said "jewel box" homes, with top level materials including granite and hardwoods but less square footage than homes of the past, are growing in popularity.
Now that we've digested our Thanksgiving turkey, it's time for the realtor.com® economic data team to digest our site's preliminary data for November. As usual for this time of year, it looks like things are slowing down as we head into the holiday season, with a stable median list price and a declining number of homes on the market.
"Sales and demand always slow down in the fall as a result of school, weather, and the holidays," said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist of realtor.com.
"We are seeing inventory decline at a normal pace, taking into account that it peaked later in the year this year," he noted. "But we're also seeing prices remain firm and age of inventory remain lower than you would typically see, which reflects more demand than normal."
Listing inventory for November looks like it will end down 2% compared with October. Homes are also taking a longer time to sell, which is typical as winter rolls through most markets, but at a pace that's still faster than this time last year. The median age of inventory is now 84 days, which is 3% slower than October 2015 but 9% faster than November 2014.
The median listing price is expected to remain fairly constant, down just 1% from October to $230,000 in November, but that would still represent an increase of 7% year over year.
Our data team ranked the country's 300 largest markets in terms of housing supply (measured by days on market) and demand (measured by listing views on our site) to come up with the top 20 hottest markets in the U.S. for this month.
With temperatures dropping, California increased its dominance of the list: 12 of the top 20 markets are in the booming West Coast state.
"We are starting to see more movement [in the ranking] in the hottest markets as the season brings material declines in demand in many markets," Smoke said. "However, California remains hot as pent-up demand continues to drive activity in very supply-constrained markets."
Home prices are soaring across the Nashville region, but buyers are finding affordable choices everywhere from the heart of the city's urban core to suburban Thompson's Station.
First-time homeowner Will Burns said he discovered a new two-bedroom condominium for under $200,000 just a few streets away from the hot 12 South and Eighth Avenue neighborhoods. His condo at the Park at Melrose Heights is located south of downtown on Nolensville Pike close to I-440 and the Fairgrounds.
"I like the location and the value of the property. It hasn't grown like 12 South and Eighth Avenue. I felt it would grow in value," Burns said.
Buyers in Williamson County, where the median home price was $422,000 in October, can find lower prices if they are willing to drive a short distance, said Jen Lucy, director of sales for the Jones Co.
The company is offering new homes from around $304,000 in Fairview's Heartland Reserve subdivision. In Thompson's Station's Canterbury neighborhood, prices start in the $350,000s.
That's not inexpensive, Lucy said, but she compared those prices with Brentwood and Franklin, where the median price in October was $603,000 and $465,000 respectively.
'Hip and cool'
In the Nations, the popular neighborhood on Nashville's west side, Craighead Development is opening the second phase of West Mill Townhomes at 5701 California Ave. Prices start around $225,000. The two- and three-bedroom townhomes range from 1,150 to 1,400 square feet. Residents are expected to begin moving in next month.
All 43 townhomes in the first phase sold within a month after the development was announced. Demand is just as strong for the 55 homes in the new phase, said Teresa Creecy, a Realtor for HND Realty, a sister company of Craighead Development.
"We have a long waiting list," said Creecy. "They are purchasing proximity to downtown, and the Nations is a hip and cool neighborhood."
West Mill's residents, most of whom are first-time buyers, are also attracted by the price, she said. Single-family homes in the neighborhood can cost $350,000.
"Our buyers can't afford $350,000. We're in a different market. I get calls from Realtors all the time, Can you find anything under $250,000?' " said Creecy.
At the Park at Melrose Heights, which was also developed by HND Realty, prices start in the $120,000s. Condos range from 550 to 937 square feet.
"It's not a lot of space, but for young, unmarried (owners), it's perfect," said HND Realtor Maria Creecy. She is Teresa Creecy's daughter.
Most residents are first-time buyers in their 20s who moved to Nashville for their careers, said Maria Creecy.
"They're not sitting in their living room. They're out and about," she said.
'More demand than supply'
The 80 condos in the initial phases of the Park at Melrose Heights sold quickly. HND is adding an additional 70 condos. Residents are expected to begin moving in next summer.
The Park at Melrose Heights, located at 2197 Nolensville Pike, is in a neighborhood that is "in transition, like so many are these days," said Maria Creecy.
When the company purchased the site several years ago, others in the real estate industry warned that new residences in that location would be a tough sell. Today the neighborhoods close to the Fairgrounds are emerging as a hot spot for homebuilding, said HND's Kristin Hostettler.
The company has a record of building affordable new homes in the city's emerging neighborhoods, she said.
"We stick our toes in each little puddle and see which ones turn into a pond," said Hostettler.
At Solo East condos in East Nashville, prices for a one-bedroom condo start at $149,900. Two-bedroom units begin $189,900. Residences range from 650 to 1,100 square feet. The development is located at the corner of Litton Avenue and Gallatin Pike.
Site work is just beginning, but three-fourths of Solo East's 130 condos have already been purchased, said Bruce McNeilage, a partner in Harpeth Development.
It tells me this project is needed," said McNeilage. "The price point is unmatched, and there's more demand than supply."
Reach Bill Lewis at 615-262-5862 or firstname.lastname@example.org.