What does the future of housing look like?

Many times we look back to see what others predicted about the future to see just how accurate they were.

I remember as a child looking at the Dick Tracy cartoons and seeing him talk to his watch, or Captain Kirk flipping out his tricorder to talk to someone on the Enterprise. This was all pretty far-fetched then, but today a whole generation uses watches and cell phone just as those characters did 40, or even 60, years ago.

So I would like to take a feeble stab looking forward to the future of housing and maybe someone will find this article 50 years from now and pass judgment.

Today’s homes are far more open than they were 50 years ago. Many individual rooms like the kitchen, dining and living rooms are blended together today into an open Great Room. I don’t see that changing. I do see a bigger move toward one-floor living with all the doorways being wide enough to be barrier free.

Fifty years ago, one telephone jack was built into most homes, and a huge TV antenna was erected outside. Twenty years ago, putting phone and cable jacks in each room was a necessity. Today, and well into the future, I see almost no hardwiring of phones or cable in homes. In the future, phone and TV won’t ever be hardwired again.

I see a future with many upscale two-story homes being built or retrofitted with a personal elevator because their cost and size have plummeted.

I also see a return to the “good old days” in a totally different way. Remember the milk man? Almost daily I remember him stopping and leaving milk on the front or side porch in an insulated box, or putting it in the milk box built into our house next to the side door. I see a future where secure and larger boxes are built into homes to receive packages from Amazon or FedEx. Everything will be shipped to you in the future and there will have to be some way to receive it securely.

When I first sold homes 40 years ago, it was common to see old coal furnaces that took up the corner of a basement (they were converted to gas), and hot water tanks larger than me standing silently next to them. Today, both appliances can fit in a small closet and use a tenth of the fuel they did just 60 years ago. I see that trend continuing to where a utility closet is the size of a small filing cabinet.

I see batteries and fuel cells more common than generators in future homes, and temperatures will be controlled differently from room to room. The move toward electric cars and ride sharing will make the garage double as a “fuel” station. Smart homes with smart locks, camera systems and voice-activated everything will become personal. Your home will start to recognize you as much as you recognize it.

I think the biggest change over the next 20 years will be that those long vacant upper floors in downtowns will once again glow at night. They will be filled with homes of those who remember them full of life 60 years ago, and those who want to be able to walk to the neighborhood grocer or coffee shop. Like the milk box, downtowns will be cool and lively at night once again. What was once old will be new (and necessary) again, just like the milk box.

The best part of being a Realtor won’t change. It is that we get to see “home” through your eyes. While we have to walk through dozens of houses a week, we get the privilege of seeing it become a home through your eyes.

When our client walks into a house, it starts to become a home when they start to place furniture or a TV in their minds. We see them talk to their children about which bedroom they like, how they will use the workshop or garage, or enjoy the yard. In the future, the process of making a house into a home will not change, because it will always be done in the heads and hearts of the buyers.

Darlene Mink-Crouse is the 2018 president of the Warren Area Board of Realtors.

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