Though it's easy to spend all your time wandering from booth to booth on the tradeshow floor, there's a lot more to IBS than just exhibits. NAHB offers a wide variety of educational programs from industry experts on everything from advanced framing techniques to tips for rebuilding your sales team and understanding the latest buyer preference trend data. The Huttig team attended more than a dozen educational programs — here are some of the highlights:

Survey Says: Home Trends & Buyer Preferences featuring Rose Quint of NAHB and Jill Waage of Better Homes and Gardens magazine

This presentation was filled with interesting facts from the research NAHB/BH&G have each conducted. Here's some of our favorites: 

  • The average home size is now 2,679 sq. ft., the largest it's ever been. Why?
    • High credit scores + high incomes.
    • 48% of homes now have 4+ bedrooms, up from 36% just four years ago!
    • 35% have three full bathrooms, up from 28% three years ago.
    • 22% have a three-car garage, up from 18% three years ago.
    • 60% have two stories, up from 51% four years ago.
    • Average sale price has risen from $248,000 in 2009 to $318,000 in 2013.
  • The top 5 most likely features in a typical single-family home:
    • Walk-in closet in master
    • Low-E windows
    • Laundry room
    • Great room
    • Energy-Star-rated appliances
    • The top 5 least likely features:
    • Laminate countertops in kitchen
    • Outdoor kitchen
    • Outdoor fireplace
    • Sunroom
    • Two-story family room
  • Ethnic Differences
    • Caucasians/Asians prefer a smaller/higher quality home, while African-Americans prefer a larger home with less amenities. Latino buyers are split evenly here.
    • Caucasians are 25% more likely to want laundry facilities on the 1st floor then other ethnic groups.
    • Though mixed-used and urbanization are popular trends to see coverage of, "high density community" was one of the 10 most unwanted features for all four groups, with Caucasian and Hispanic respondents ranking it 3rd most unwanted.
    • Across the board, a wireless home security system was ranked as the most desired technology feature.
    • Source: What Home Buyers Really Want: Ethnic Preferences by NAHB
  • 67-78% of buyers want an environmentally-friendly home but are unwilling to pay more for it. However, 82-91% are concerned about energy efficiency. So remember, it's not about green — it's about saving money!

To view the entire presentation, please click here.

Designing for the Multi-Generation Family featuring Deryl Patterson of BSB Design and Matt Sauls of Pardee Homes

This presentation featured some eye-opening statistics about households in the US, such as:

  • 7.7 million kids lived with at least one grandparent in 2012
  • 21.6 million milennials (aged 18-30) lived with their parents in 2012
  • 17% of US households are multi-generational
    • 24 million with 2 generations (traditional parent + child)
    • 23.9 million with 3 generations
    • 662,000 with more than 3 generations

With numbers like those, if builders and suppliers aren't paying attention, they're missing out on a huge opportunity. Pardee Homes in Southern California has developed unique floor plans for multi-gen, utilizing existing home footprints that add as little as $10,000 to the total cost of a home. Pardee's 1st neighborhood with this option saw 25% of buyers choose one of their “SmartGen” floorplans. These homes will have specific product needs that vary from a standard home, so it's important for dealers to know and understand this trend when their customers begin the bid process.

For more on multi-gen, visit

Time for a Tune-Up: Bring Profits Back! featuring Charles Shinn of Builder Partnerships

Charles went in-depth through the cost structure of a home to help builders understand where they're giving away all their margin, something dealer salespeople may or may not fully understand.

  • The 45-year average profit for a builder is 3.5 – 5%, incredibly low for such a high-risk venture.
  • A good builder should hit 8-12%.
  • The best make 15-20%.

Most problems a builder has can be traced back to poor management systems and things like not building inevitable discounts into the price structure, accurately determining fair market price and not deducting for warranty allowance/slippage rates. Having a complete, accurate project budget would be a huge help for everyone involved in the project, especially you, as a supplier on the project. That doesn't mean your margins have to get squeezed, however. You've got the opportunity to help a builder identify high-margin opportunities to upsell, such as entry doors or flooring, as well as areas they may be able to cut costs by going with an alternate product. 

Of course, one of the fastest ways for a project's costs to get out of control is when sub-contractors arrive to a jobsite and the materials they need aren't there yet, or they don't have the right amount on hand. Those situations can kill the profit on a job for both you and your customer, so do all you can to avoid it.

To view the entire presentation, please click here.

Articles in Better Business, Trends | February 01, 2014