A measure of any great magazine is its willingness to present a vision of the future through the eyes of its industry and its editorial staff. For 25 years, we've reported and made predictions regarding every facet of the housing industry— so much to be right or first with a forecast or trend, but to help push (or pull) builders toward the next horizon. It's a risk we understand and respect ... and will continue to take. Besides, it's fun to make predictions ... and even more fun to find out how close we came to reality. It keeps us (and you) interested, creates debate and dialogue, and provokes thought, investigation, and action.
The following 25 predictions, culled from past issues of BUILDER, provide an opportunity to evaluate our visionary skills, take a look back with 20/20 hindsight, and see just how far the housing industry has come in the last quarter century.
[prediction] "Neo-traditionalism is a megatrend. The edge will go to builders who understand that home has become a mother ship, a high-tech haven."— Elkind, TrendSights, in the feature "Cocoons" (July 1989)
[outcome] Coined by trend watcher Faith Popcorn, "cocooning" became a buzzword for housing in the early '90s that still has legs today, as does neo-traditionalism (it just doesn't roll off the tongue as easily). The "mother ship, high-tech haven" we foresaw was epitomized in our 2003 idea home ("Destinations"), called HomeDestinations at Southern Highlands, a 13,000-square-foot, indoor/outdoor villa in Las Vegas featuring an Old World feel and finishes. Its cocooning features included a home theater (with full bar), in-home spa and massage room, putting green, "panic" room, sports court garage, wine cellar, game room, personal dry cleaning equipment, and dual home offices. They can all be found in mainstream move-up housing today, though typically not all in one house.
[prediction] "At the rate of 100,000 [units] a year, it will take us 90 years to meet the needs of our currently under-served population."— Chisholm, director, Office of Policy for Public and Indian Housing at HUD, regarding Section 8 housing (February 1985)
[outcome] Currently, HUD's 30-year-old housing assistance program serves 1.5 million families, with more than 5 million still in need and waiting lists that average 28 months in most cities and up to eight years in New York and Washington.
[prediction] "As a result [of the Fed's decision to raise interest rates to record levels], the housing industry faces a crisis. New-home sales will drop sharply. Inventory will build up. The resale market ... will continue to weaken." — Sumichrast, chief economist, NAHB (December 1979)
[outcome] Old-timers still get woozy and feverish when they think about the recession of the early '80s, when starts dipped to a record-low 1.062 million (and only 662,000 single-family), while 30-year fixed-mortgage interest rates peaked at 16.63 percent.