Trends We are Watching This Year

Industry and Market demands ebb and flow. Over the years we’ve seen various trends gain favor, and others fade away. Informed by our 2017 experiences and historical presence in the market, we predict the following trends in 2018:

House on a residential narrow lot

Residential Narrow Lot

Lot Sizes

Continued market push to small, single-family home lot sizes

What do we consider small for a single family home lot? 55 to 60 feet widths.  The majority of our single-family projects are pursuing approvals for lots in this size range. While bigger can mean better to some, we’ve noticed that the current trends reject this notion. We see the push for small, single-family home lot sizes in Scio, Pittsfield and Saline. These are more urban areas with strong school systems. The trend spreads its presence into the product lines of local and regional builders, who fill their product lines with homes that fit into the 55 to 60 ft. width lot sizes. The current, sometimes younger, home buyer is less interested in spending money on larger lots. Instead, we see more value placed in smaller lots and upgraded home elements. This shows a preference towards quality of home-life, over quantity of space.

Municipal Utilities

Continued demand for parcels of land that have municipal utilities

This comes down to the supply and demand dynamic. We are approached on a weekly basis from the development community, by builders and developers, looking for parcels of land to develop with specific requirements. Those requirements are for parcels within specific school districts, and with public sanitary and water services. The problem is made clear with a look at the local community master plans. Many if not most of the parcels that do have immediate opportunity for public utility services, are not always in the preferred school districts. Those that are, will require extension of utilities, which can be a cost prohibitive proposition.  Which is why there’s a high demand.

We’re anticipating exploration and establishment of more development that integrates community-based wastewater systems in response to this situation. Community-based wastewater systems continue to be a cost effective viable solution.  We are familiar with this situation due to our experience working with  many development clients in understanding utility connections, costs and opportunities.

Blue Heron Pond Housing

Blue Heron Pond housing development


Creative and flexible application of zoning for community-focused projects

We discovered that many communities in Washtenaw County want to create living situations that are different from the typical single-family home on an acre lot.

We also know that many local cities are looking to increase their number of dense, compact, multi-family developments. These developments would include amenities more typical to a resort community.

The goal of these amenities is to attract new generations. The vision is to bring back or maintain the vibrancy towns have created with a diverse housing stock.

The conversation about compact dense developments has been ongoing. Due to the rising prices of homes and cost of education, this conversation has moved to the forefront for decision makers as they consider how the next generations will live, work, and play.

Collegian North mixed use building

Collegian North mixed use space

Retail Developments

Slowing of retail only developments; for a push to convert to mixed use

We have seen the inevitable slowing of retail space development, as many shoppers continue to switch to shopping on-line.  As such the development community continues to reduce the amount of squared footage developed for retail space in their mixed use developments. Instead of retail spaces we are seeing creative flex type spaces that could be retail, or could be small tech start-up space creating live work opportunities that are not based around apartments and retail space.

We do see some retail specific developments popping up, but they’re executed in a more thoughtful manner than years past.  Retail continues to  be part of a broader development plan. Take for example the vertical or horizontal integration of retail in living units. Or, retail combinations with office or industrial flex spaces, used to sell merchandise created on-site.

We are watching how this trend plays out by keeping our eyes on a few retailers that are coming to the States, establishing themselves on the coasts and working their way through the Midwest.  Their current success and actions will signify how retail trends will continue.

Contact Tom Covert to discuss these trends,


To talk shop or ask questions, email or call one of our offices. We look forward to using our new technologies to provide solutions for you.