Home Edition July 2016
New Tools Help Homeowners Redecorate From Their Couch
New tools like virtual reality measuring apps and online mood boards are using augmented reality and virtual reality technology to help homeowners find easier and quicker ways to decorate their homes and apartments. These new tools let homeowners envision new wall colors, furniture and curtains without having to take them home. That means no more buying extra paint for samples or paying return fees on a chair that turns out to be too big for the room.
Online home retailer Wayfair.com is digitizing its catalog and testing augmented reality and virtual reality apps as well as 3D models of its products. The company is set to release an augmented reality app for Google Tango, which uses software and sensors to track motions and size up the contours of rooms.
The Wayfair tool lets people see how pieces of furniture and decor will look and fit in their homes through the display on a smartphone. Shoppers use headgear like an Oculus Rift that allows them to customize a room by setting the model, material and layout of the furnishings.
The all-in-one site Houzz.com not only helps shoppers get inspiration and narrow their choices down from its more than five million products from over 10,000 sellers. In addition, it also helps people find local professionals to install the curtains they just bought.
The company recently launched an augmented reality app called "View in My Room" that allows shoppers to experiment with home decor options by virtually placing products from its online store into their home before you buy. It seems to be converting browsers into buyers.
Home Depot has an app that lets customers upload a picture of the room and thumb through thousands of paint and stain colors until they arrive at one that's right. The app can detect the lighting, shadows and other variables in the space or project and adapt the color to fit.
Ikea is relaunching an augmented reality option within its app late this summer that will interact with its fall catalog.
Goal of Owning Home Still Strong Amongst Homeowners
Americans still want to own homes — if they can afford to. That's the finding of a report released by the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies.
The pressures of student debt, rising rents and the leftover wreckage from the nearly decade-old housing bust have restrained people's ability to buy, even though the dream remains alive. The report sees reasons for both optimism (more millennials are poised to leave the nest) and concern (rising numbers of renters face extreme costs).
Those factors could determine whether the share of Americans who are renting keeps rising or whether the nation's homeownership rate can rebound from a near 48-year low of 63.5 percent.
Here are other major trends documented in the report:
More household formation:
Americans formed 1.3 million new households in 2015, a return to normal pace of growth. Much of last year's increase reflected an aging population in which more households consist of adults older than 65. But the Harvard analysis says the increase in households should continue because of the influx of millennials, which it defines as those born between 1985 and 2004.
Millennial household formation is expected to average more than 2 million annually over the next several years, a surge that will likely further raise demand for rental units.
Larger houses, smaller apartments:
Some people might love those tiny houses, but most yearn for extra space. The median size of a newly built single-family house was a record-setting 2,467 square feet last year. By contrast, the median unit in a new multifamily building has shrunk to 1,074 square feet from a peak of nearly 1,200 square feet in 2007.
Home building up but still low:
Homebuilders broke ground on 1.1 million properties last year, a healthy 10.8 percent annual increase from the depths of the recession. Before 2016, apartment buildings, more than single-family houses, drove much of the increase in construction.
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