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Dick Turpin

Amenities Key to Home Sales

March 01, 1987|DICK TURPIN

Amenities of a home or an office, used as principal selling and leasing points, are gradually increasing to meet the demands of more sophisticated home buyers and office users.

Such long-standing features as air conditioning, kitchen islands, fireplaces, wet bars, conversation circles, vaulted ceilings, ceramic tile and parquet floors will still help sell the house. Parking facilities, elevators and adroit layout of commercial floor space are still essential.

But both in residential and commercial real estate today, trends are developing which require additional amenities to compensate for the sociological changes during and since the inflationary 1970s.

The demographic trends point to long-term consumer desires that only new amenities can satisfy, and they present new, major concerns for the real estate industry.

Brokers from the local offices of Cushman & Wakefield got an inkling of what may be ahead for them at a recent meeting with Gary T. Wescombe, senior partner in the Newport Beach offices of Kenneth Leventhal & Co., certified public accountants specializing in realty matters.

"Life styles have changed significantly in the past 10 to 15 years, and the real estate industry will find opportunities and challenges as the population's makeup and needs continue to change," he said.

"The increase of women in the work force and the delay in marriages has led, in part, to smaller families and single households.

"People are more health-oriented, have better educations and generally higher income levels. The mature marketplace--people over the age of 55--is growing almost twice as fast as the rest of the population.

"The result is a need for highly amenitized projects, both commercial and residential. Both users and buyers will be searching for this type of property."

He cited the increasing use of day-care centers for children of working parents. Often, these facilities are either sponsored or subsidized by the employer, and such centers now are being incorporated into many industrial parks and office complexes, as well as residential projects.

"Where tenants and owners once viewed project amenities as benefits, many now consider such aspects mandatory," he noted.

So-called "smart buildings," containing the newest in telecommunications and computer systems, are raising "user expectations" and making such modern amenities a requirement if the firm moves to another location.

Smartness is not only the domain of the commercial structure. The most modern of homes now have adopted the same "smarts."

This section has published a number of stories dealing with the "smart house" and all its electronic wonders--systems, for instance, which allow the homeowner to "phone" a control console at home to have the shower water at the right temperature for the tired executive. Or to have some favorite music to greet the home-arrival. But nothing has been developed--yet--to greet the tired soul with a martini.

Wescombe adds that Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Ryan Homes, in its new homes for sale, has installed "homeminders"--a computerized system that controls 100 household items. Residential security systems have become very popular and comforting and by 1990, 10 million homes throughout the nation will be served by such computers, he expects.

On the commercial side, electronic retailing totaled $285 million and could reach the $17 billion mark by 1990, by his calculations. This will change property requirements for retailing and will result in market segmentation to an intense degree and could greatly increase warehouse and shipping facility needs.

Wescombe envisions new concepts for planned communities, and more of them. They will be specifically planned neighborhoods, catering to the varying creature comforts of the young and the unprecedented numbers of the senior citizenry. Of course, they will be highly amenitized.

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