Demand for higher density development appears to be waning

Overall business conditions remain healthy for residential architects

For immediate release:

Washington, D.C. – December 19, 2017Recent gains in demand for infill development and other factors associated with community accessibility appear to be moderating. Showing signs of market saturation, demand for walkable neighborhoods, multi-generational housing and access to public transportation remain very strong, but growth has leveled off, according to the findings from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the third quarter of 2017, which focuses on community and neighborhood design.

AIA Home Design Trends Survey highlights

Community design elements       2017      2016      

Infill development                           59%      68%      

Mixed-use facilities                         59%      56%    

Increase in tear-downs                   56%      68%    

Higher density development           54%      53%      

Multi-generational housing            54%      52%    

Access to public transportation     53%      55%      

More walkable neighborhoods       46%      49%      

More recreational opportunities     42%      50%  

(% respond. report. popularity of feature “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q3)

All of the data from this survey can be access in this infographic.

“Intense development pressure on urban neighborhoods seems to be tapering as more development swings back to suburban and exurban locations,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Though homeowners still desire access to community amenities, these results reflect a slowing of migration toward more dense neighborhoods.”

Popular Home Exteriors Features      2017      2016      

Low maintenance exterior materials      59%      68%      

Windows (number and size)                     41%      47%      

Contemporary design                              40%      43%      

Front/side porches                                  30%      40%      

Smaller / custom design                         29%      35%      

Metal finishes                                           23%      36%      

Fire resistant exterior material               23%      26%      

Exterior accent lighting                            27%      18%      

Simpler exterior detailing                        19%      22%      

Single story homes                                  16%      25%  

(% respond. report. popularity of feature “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q3)

“Homeowner priorities remain consistent, with low maintenance building materials topping the home exterior features list,” Baker added.  

Housing market business conditions

AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q3 2017 (any score above 50 is positive)

  • Billings: 58
  • Inquiries for new projects: 59
  • Regional averages: Midwest (60.0), South (59.4), Northeast (56.9), West (56.1)

Baker noted, “Business conditions at residential architecture firms remain strong across all regions, with improvements to existing homes continuing to top the list for specific residential sectors.”

Specific construction segments                              2017      2016      

Additions /  alterations                                                 60%      57%      

Kitchen and bath  remodeling                                      52%      49%      

Move-up home  market                                                 20%      22%      

Townhouse / condo  market                                         16%       11%      

Custom / luxury  home market                                     14%      20%      

First-time buyer /  affordable home market                -2%      -1%      

Second / vacation  home                                             -16%      -6%  

(% respond. report. popularity of feature “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q3)

About the AIA Home Design Trends Survey

The AIA Home Design Trend Survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of over 500 architecture firms that concentrate their practice in the residential sector. Residential architects are design leaders in shaping how homes function, look, and integrate into communities and this survey helps to identify emerging trends in the housing marketplace. Business conditions are also monitored on a quarterly basis. Future surveys will focus on kitchen and bath trends (March 2018), overall home layout and use (June 2018), and specialty rooms and systems (September 2018).

About The American Institute of Architects

Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit


Matt Tinder
Back to media center list