December 4, 2018

Spotlight On The Market – Homes Of The Future With Travis Lipshus

As the phrase “future-proof” enters the shopping list for home buyers, this month we are focussing on the home of the future in Byron Shire. Predicting what type of houses people will want in the future, particularly in relation to technology and lifestyle is as acutely difficult as any other fortune telling enterprise.

Disney tried in the 50s and 60s to imagine the home of the future in a Tomorrowland Exhibit called ‘House of The Future’. The collaboration with Monsanto (yes the Agricultural Company come chemicals giant famous for genetic modification of food,) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was to build a prototype for the type of home we would all want to inhabit in the future.

The prototype missed the mark. Majorly. But in lots of ways, it was a sign of the Stepford times. The modular construction, which looked a little bit like a spacecraft, was constructed predominantly out of plastics – one of Monsanto’s big production verticals at the time. The idea was to solve the need for fast, affordable accommodation for baby-boomers who were ‘booming’ and to demonstrate how plastic could be a saviour. Turns out no one wanted to boom in plastic UFOs.

Fast forward to 2018 and what does the house of the future look like?

“Not full of plastic and tin foil as some people predicted,” says Travis Lipshus of First National Byron. “In fact, the trends that we are seeing are almost in polar opposition to that.”

It seems that no one from Monsanto’s House of The Future predicted that people would take on technology to drive their ecological and social sensibilities, rather than diminish them.

“Sustainability is ever increasing as people are looking to get off the grid. I have noticed that buyers are concerned with the consumption aspect of a home in terms of water and electricity supply. Solar panels, grey water recycling, water storage and even space to grow and store their own produce tells me that the home of the future is becoming a place of greater self-reliance.”

“The ability to connect to the technology infrastructures is important to many people who see it as a gateway to the world and a means of achieving a more flexible work arrangement. ”

“The sharing of information via the internet was probably something most people couldn’t predict at all half a century ago. With the polyester world that was being created in the 50s and 60s, there is a beautiful irony that some of the information people have accessed has created a much more human-friendly environment.”

“There is definately a move away from cheaper building supplies to higher quality and more healthy materials, things like sustainable timber.”

“I have noticed buyers in Byron Shire, especially the established part of town are looking for homes with grassed yards to cater for an outdoor family living.”

A relaxed approached to life is something that people are looking for. The formal and rigid social fabric that informed the Monsanto House, simply doesn’t apply any more as freedom and flexibility are key.

“We recently had a beautiful character home with lovely established gardens. It was every bit the quaint storybook house but the formal living and dining rooms were just out of date with how people like to live these days, gathered with homework and produce around the same kitchen bench, asking Alexa for help with math questions and recipes.”

“The average block size in NSW has been steadily decreasing for some years now, people no longer need as much space unless they’re looking to create an income stream from their property (like a granny flat or second dwelling). House sizes also decreasing.”

We have also seen a rise of ‘tiny houses’ – eco-friendly and low cost living in smaller spaces. In fact, a Malaysian designed Bamboo construction that costs less than $100/sqm and takes half a day to build has just taken out the Cities of The Future Award from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-23/bamboo-house-for-manila-slums-wins-top-prize/10548092).

“There is a huge increase in demand for single level homes or properties that have a main bedroom on the ground floor as baby boomers downsize.”

“The demand for units in Byron is ever increasing, especially studios/one bedrooms. A lot of people forced to rent sharehouses because of lack of supply”.