Home Innovation Insights

Insider insights on what's going on in the home building industry.

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March 22, 2021

Brand New Brand Data

Based on our 2020 end-of-year survey over 100,000 U.S. households, the 2021 Consumer Practices Reports are now available. The new information is “must read,” shedding light on how COVID-19 changed the U.S. and Canadian home remodeling industries and including incredible detail. You may have seen some of the previews we’ve shared over the past several weeks in our Trend articles on pro vs. DIY remodeling during the pandemic and the products that did best in the “year of DIY”.

In addition to the standard product reports, we also have our Consumer Practices Survey (CPS) Brand reports available. These reveal how specific brands faired during the pandemic, and may call out some elements of the path forward.

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Building Products, Marketing, Building Practices, Homebuyer Preferences, Data and Trends

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November 13, 2020

Home, Home on the … Infill Lot

While the markets for new homes and building materials roil with unpredictability, there are some things in the new home construction industry that are a little more stable—such as the types of building lots available. “They’re not making any more land,” the old adage goes, and land for new residential developments is universally reported to be in extremely short supply.

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Building Products, Marketing, Building Practices, Homebuyer Preferences, Data and Trends

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September 21, 2020

With COVID-19 Market Disruptions, Slight Needle Tilt in Attitudes Toward Offsite Construction

Prior to COVID-19, a tightening labor supply and hot housing market portended a bright future for offsite housing construction methods, such as panelization and modular. In the wake of coronavirus and rising availability of workers sidelined from other industries, at least one key driver of builders adopting offsite methods may have faded. Are builders less inclined to adopt offsite construction now? Or are there other factors making them more ready for the change? A recent survey aimed to find out the answer to these and other related questions.

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Building Products, Marketing, Building Practices, Homebuyer Preferences, Data and Trends

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September 4, 2020

Offsite Construction is the Answer—But, to Which Question?

A lot of attention has been given to offsite building solutions in recent years, and data show that it’s quickly making inroads in multifamily and commercial construction. Offsite construction has also been touted as a solution to the shortage of skilled construction labor that has hampered housing production in the past few years. Large single-family builders have told us repeatedly how difficult it has been to keep up with housing demand because they can’t get homes built fast enough – they attribute this to the tight schedules of subcontracted labor who can’t find enough skilled workers to keep up. NAHB reports that the average cycle time for building a single-family home has increased from 6 months to 7 in the past few years.

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August 20, 2020

COVID-19 Brings New Mix of Customers, Product Sales to Pro Yards (Part II)

The national news and trade press have regularly kept us up-to-date on the COVID-19 traffic boost in home improvement warehouse (HIW) stores, largely due to their visibility with retail locations across the country and publicly-traded stock, which makes information on their performance readily available.

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August 13, 2020

COVID-19 Brings New Mix of Customers, Product Sales to Pro Yards (Part I)

Building products manufacturers, mills, and wood treatment facilities are keenly aware of the COVID-19 traffic boost in home improvement warehouse (HIW) stores, such as Home Depot, Menards, and Lowes. If they have a strong presence in those locations, these manufacturers are happy about that boost. But many who aren’t well established in HIW stores and are more dependent on lumber and building materials dealers are feeling like they’re missing an opportunity.

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July 10, 2020

New Builder Practices Report Reveals Air Tightening Strategies Among Home Builders

With most of the 2020 Builder Practices Reports now available, we’ve been anxiously reviewing each report for new trends in building products for new homes. In addition to our traditional line up of questions, the 2020 survey contained some new topics—for example, we added questions on air sealing methods for new homes.

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June 30, 2020

Do I Hear an Echo?

The 1970’s was the greatest home building decade in U.S. history in terms of the total number of new homes built—nearly 18 million residences in that decade. Fueled by the Baby Boom generation’s need for housing, there was a rental housing boom in the early 70’s, followed by a very strong starter home market, and later as the Baby Boom generation continued to move through its life cycle, began buying move-up homes like they did starter homes a decade earlier.

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June 10, 2020

The Great Outdoors: Trends from 2020 Consumer Practices Survey

For the past several years, Outdoor Living upgrades have been getting a lot more attention as homeowners seek to expand their living space from within the walls of the home to beyond those borders. Average new home size has shrunk in the past few years, but the expansion of outdoor living space has more than filled the gap the shrinking home has left.

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May 26, 2020

Changes in Consumer Remodeling Choices

Our 2020 Annual Consumer Practices Survey is complete, data compiled, and reports will be available starting this week. More than 110,000 U.S. and Canadian households participated this year and provided highly-detailed information on their remodeling activities and purchases from nearly 40 different product categories. This is an incredibly important data year as it establishes a pre-COVID-19 benchmark to measure against. The home flooring replacement market, for example, was anything but static in the preceding year.

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May 11, 2020

Brushstrokes & Chill: Interior Painting, Outdoor Living Get Boost During Stay-At-Home

Occasionally, unforeseen opportunities arise in the course of research where data can be analyzed for a purpose that was not originally intended. Collecting data from our 100,000-response Consumer Practices Survey (CPS) occurred from mid-February to mid-April 2020; this collection period spanned the period of time when we first began seeing COVID-19 as a serious threat in the Unites States and governments began restricting certain businesses and activities.

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May 1, 2020

Post-COVID-19 Market Environment for Construction Products

While in most states home construction has been considered “essential” in our COVID-19-restricted economy, that doesn’t mean that all things have been “business-as-usual.” Quite the contrary. Builders and contractors are reporting that social distancing measures and shut downs in other sectors of the economy have slowed sales, lengthened construction times, and reduced the reliability and flexibility of their workforce. As states begin allowing limited re-opening of more businesses, construction companies are focusing on how to handle a surge in demand. But will the building product industry, with its own COVID-19 curtailments, be able to sufficiently supply a robust rebound of the residential construction industry? And, just as importantly, what product mix will satisfy the needs of the new industry environment?

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April 22, 2020

Building Product R&D During COVID-19 Pandemic: Full Steam Ahead or On Hold?

In theory, business disruptions, even one as unexpected and drastic as COVID-19, can spur innovation in an industry as companies adapt to overcome new challenges to their economic viability. However, reality often favors the opposite end of the spectrum, where companies opt to retrench, preserve cash, and focus on short-term, revenue-generating functions as they prepare for a potential protracted downturn. This tactic likely results in reallocating dollars away from R&D and market expansion efforts. And, since these activities are generally associated with a company’s innovativeness – and further, its long-term health and viability – the chasm between the theoretical benefits and harsh reality of major disruptions widens.

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April 17, 2020

Focus Shift: Builders’ Views on Skilled Labor Shortage Change in the Face of COVID-19 Crisis

One of the hottest topics in the industry press prior to March of this year was the ongoing and growing shortage of skilled construction labor. The coverage reflected the perceptions of home builders across the country as they faced this daunting issue and its effects on their businesses. Over the past few weeks, however, with builder confidence about future sales dropping sharply in response to COVID-19, we felt it was time for us to re-assess the labor environment as a builder priority.

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April 9, 2020

Discrete Choice in Qualitative Research—A Powerful Way to Determine the “Why” of Decision Dynamics

Most researchers associate discrete choice methodologies with surveys where the objective is to measure the “What” of buyer preference. But in qualitative research, where exploration is a common objective, discrete choice methodology can be applied to better understand the “Why” of decision dynamics and to identify what tradeoffs buyers are making when choosing building products or services. Home Innovation offers clients this powerful way to explore decision making through discrete choice qualitative research.

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Data and Trends, Survey Research, Building Products, Marketing, Building Practices

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April 2, 2020

Which to Pick? Energy Efficiency vs. IAQ

Growing interest in Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) have some believing it will soon rival Energy Efficiency in consumers' housing-related decision making. So we put it to the test, adding a question to our 2020 Consumer Practices Survey. Take a look at my summary of what we found.

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March 18, 2020

Looking for a Needle in a Haystack? We’ve Got It!

Finding and surveying a consumer group with specific home repair or remodeling purchase experience can be challenging, at best. Sometimes, it’s like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Here’s why it can be so difficult — each year…

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February 28, 2020

PROVE IT! Time & Motion Studies of Building Product Installations

You know your product addresses the growing construction labor shortage, but your claims are falling on the deaf ears of skeptical potential buyers. They’ve heard that claim before and want someone to provide verification that it really works. Unfortunately, for manufacturers who have developed truly improved products, there are few standard test methods to empirically validate benefits like these.

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January 31, 2020

The Year Ahead in Residential Housewrap

Historically, one of the biggest challenges home builders have faced is keeping rainwater out of wood-framed walls. Earliest techniques included big roof overhangs to shelter walls from rainwater, lapping siding boards to push water away from walls, protecting the framing with moisture-resistant sheathing materials, and later, placing a water-resistant layer like asphalt felt beneath siding to protect wood elements from rot.

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December 17, 2019

Up On the Rooftop: Building Trends That Matter to Santa

As many of us prepare for the upcoming holidays, I thought I’d do my part by scouting out changes Santa might see as he readies to land on the rooftops of U.S. homes next week. I did some fact-finding in our Annual Builder Practices Reports to determine how changes in new home construction, particularly on roofs, may impact his annual Christmas eve mission. So below is my list – neither naughty, nor nice; just the facts as revealed in Home Innovation’s 2019 Builder Practices Reports … but I did check them twice!

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November 21, 2019

Really Cheap Survey Sample of Construction Pros!

Going with a really cheap survey sample may be one of the biggest mistakes your company could make in conducting market research among construction pros. No doubt, you can get cheap survey sample for about any set of qualifications for just $5, $10, or $20 per completed response. However, we have found through our own experience, as well as anecdotally from clients who’ve been lured in by cheap prices in the past, that more than 75% of “qualified” construction pros from consumer panels are not really construction pros at all; and the rest of the list is typically of questionable quality. As they say, garbage in, garbage out.

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September 19, 2019

That’s a Wrap: Housewrap Trends in the Residential Market

During this week’s Housewrap 2019 conference in Ft. Lauderdale, I presented, “Trends and Opportunities in the Residential Housewrap Market.” The presentation included information from our Annual Builder Practices Reports and Annual Consumer Practices Reports.

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August 30, 2019

Study Finds Current Labor Climate is Both Opportunity & Barrier for Offsite Housing Solutions

At Home Innovation Research Labs, we’re continuing to monitor the building industry climate and market opportunities for offsite housing construction through our surveys of home builders. Most recently, our August 2019 Omnibus Survey of builders included several questions on this topic.

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August 9, 2019

Builders Still Sensitive to Materials Price Increases

In recent years, a great deal of emphasis has been placed on the skilled labor shortage affecting construction and the related changes in building and buying patterns this has caused among home builders. But there may be an even greater pain-point among builders that’s getting a lot less attention—builder sensitivity to increases in building materials prices. Given the nature of the construction business, price increases over the course of home construction (currently averaging 7 months from breaking ground to completion) cuts into margins, while price declines are a windfall. The problem is that lately price increases have far outweighed decreases.

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May 10, 2019

Hot, Fresh Data Now Available: 2019 Annual Builder Practices Reports

Data collection for our Annual Builder Practices Survey is complete and initial findings are now being published. More than 1,500 U.S. home builders participated this year to give us highly detailed information on their new home characteristics and the products they purchased for their homes.

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April 12, 2019

New Data from Annual Remodeling Survey Sheds Light on Changing Market

Data collection for our Annual Consumer Practices Survey is complete and we’re now compiling and publishing the initial findings. More than 110,000 U.S. and Canadian households participated this year, and provided highly detailed information on their remodeling activities and purchases in 30 different product categories for the last year.

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March 1, 2019

On Trend with Off Site: When & Where Off-Site Housing Technologies Will Emerge

During this year’s International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas, I presented, “When and Where Off-Site Housing Technologies Will Emerge” to members of NAHB’s Building Systems Council (BSC). The presentation included information from a 10-year summary of our Annual Builder Practices Reports and a survey conducted in December 2018 of home 300 builders who were asked about their future intentions for using building components and off-site housing technologies. While I’d provided an overview of December’s survey findings here on our website, the presentation was based on a more in-depth analysis based on builder type, size, and region.

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January 25, 2019

Education & Training Key to Overcoming Builder Challenges With Energy Codes

Two weeks ago, I blogged about a summary of findings to a builder survey, where more than 250 write-in responses to the question, “What are your biggest challenges in constructing homes to meet current energy codes?” were received.

Responses varied widely. In an attempt to summarize the breadth of responses, I would say they indicated that building more energy-efficient homes means the home building industry has to change, and change can be painful — particularly painful when the industry is producing at near capacity, labor and materials costs are rising, and both management and jobsite labor are in short supply. The 85% of respondents who indicated having challenges seemed to convey that the fast pace of building code changes is disrupting the design and construction of homes, and they are trying to sort things out.

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Building Products, Marketing, Building Practices, Homebuyer Preferences, Insulation, Data and Trends, Energy Performance

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January 11, 2019

Builders Identify Top Challenges in Meeting New Energy Code Requirements

In December 2018, Home Innovations Research Labs fielded our Omnibus Survey of 300 U.S. home builders, which included dozens of questions from sponsoring manufacturers. We also included some of our own questions to gain insight into current building construction issues.

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January 4, 2019

The Evolution of “Smart” Homes & Technology

It’s been about 30 years since Home Innovation Research Labs built the first Smart House prototype in Maryland research home park. The whole “smart home” concept has been on the verge of exploding in the market for decades, but along the way changing homes, demographics, technologies, and lifestyles have continued to evolve and caused wrinkles in the plans of companies and organizations bringing this technology to market.

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July 18, 2018

Builder Survey Data Analysis: Trends in Trim, Insulation, Sheathing, Cabinets

The data is in! Home Innovation’s 2018 Builder Practices Survey continues to reveal many new trends and reversals. Some of the most notable changes we’ve seen so far have been highlighted in my recent Trends posts. Here are a few more points I’ve found interesting during my ongoing analysis…

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March 14, 2018

True Value: NGBS Green Certification Lauded for Adding Value for Builders and Homeowners

Greenwashing. Unfortunately, it’s not a new form of consumer deception. But, fortunately, there are both new and improving means of shining a light on those who seek to deceive, as well as recognizing and rewarding those who provide true value with high-performance, green building.

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Green Building, Building Practices, Homebuyer Preferences, Marketing, Survey Research, Data and Trends

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July 10, 2015

Data Hot Off the Spreadsheets!

According to Home Innovation's latest Annual Builder Practices Survey, the home building industry is finally climbing out of the doldrums, and some exciting and unexpected opportunities are revealing themselves. For over 30 years, our annual survey and reports have tracked market shares of building material categories. Find out what the latest data tell us.

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September 12, 2014

Don’t Get Caught Flat Footed with Market Changes

As a building product manufacturer, it’s important to base your assessment of market change on reliable data and not the latest industry hype. Find out how our product usage data helps vigilant product managers spot changes as they're beginning to happen, when there's still time to act and not just re-act.

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July 16, 2014

Align Your Green Home Marketing with Your Buyers' Values, Not Your Own

One of the most significant obstacles to green home building is the prevailing builder myth that ALL consumers ONLY care about energy efficiency because an energy-efficient home will cost less to operate. It's just not that simple. While many consumers do care about energy efficiency, and a portion of those care about it specifically because a more efficient home, apartment, or car will save them money, that only tells part of the story. Find out more about the other pieces of the green home marketing puzzle that builders must learn to solve.

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Green Building, Data and Trends, Homebuyer Preferences, Marketing, Survey Research

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July 3, 2014

Exterior Materials Trends from Annual Builder Practices Survey

With new single-family housing starts up 16 percent from the previous year, 2013 brought some needed relief to a beleaguered industry. What did that mean for building products usage? After comparing data from our 2013 Annual Builder Practices Reports to the previous year, what we saw largely met our expectations. However, there were a few surprises that may signal some fundamental changes in builder preferences for new home materials. Take a look at what we observed for residential exterior materials.

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Data and Trends, Homebuyer Preferences, Survey Research, Building Products, Marketing, Roofing

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May 1, 2014

Time to Rethink Canada

Some U.S. manufacturers of building materials have overlooked Canada as an important part of their market development efforts, instead concentrating on expanding their presence into new U.S. geographies or penetrating deeper into existing markets. This may have been rational, for example, in 2005 when the Canadian housing market about 1/10th the size of the U.S. market (measured in new homes completed). Last year, Canada’s housing market was about 1/5th the size of the U.S. market. The stability of the Canadian housing market is also noteworthy, and the anemic rebound of the U.S. new home market are more reasons to take a closer look at Canada.

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April 10, 2014

The Pitfalls of Brand Share Studies of Construction Products

A successful year for your company may mean a couple percentage points gain in market share against your competitors. But how do you know your competitive position with any certainty? Are sudden changes in sales affecting only your company, or is the entire market or product category up or down for some reason? Since most companies' product category sales and production figures aren’t made public, companies often resort to conducting their own brand share study to answer these and other questions.

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April 1, 2014

The End of Business as Usual

Today’s housing market presents builders and remodelers with lots of changes. More stringent energy codes. A shortage of skilled labor. Changing consumer preferences. Advanced building science technologies. Rising land and material costs. As a result, builders' and remodelers' practices are changing at a similar pace.

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February 13, 2014

How Likable (& Effective) Are Your Building Product Ads?

I saw an ad recently that was so good I watched it several times on the DVR. It not only made me feel more positive about the brand, it made me want to use the brand more often. Don’t you hope all the ads you have a hand in crafting are this effective? We can help.

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February 6, 2014

Innovation is Our ROI

We are an enigma -- a for-profit operating as an independent subsidiary of a non-profit. At the same time, our by-laws outline a corporate mission of research and development aimed at increasing the affordability, and improving the quality and performance of homes nationwide. Our mission appears to belie our for-profit organizing principle, but it actually offers insight into barriers to innovation within the residential construction industry. Find out how we help clients navigate those challenges.

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Building Practices, Building Products, Data and Trends, Marketing

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January 9, 2014

5 Green Home Building Trends from 2013

2013 was a year marked with change and innovation in the world of green. Find out about some of the leading trends we saw in our green home certification program.

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Green Building, Energy Performance, Building Practices, Data and Trends

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January 2, 2014

Going to the Source: On-Site Market Research at IBS

Are you planning to do focus groups at IBS? Shouldn't you be? The attendees will represent everyone from the guys who pound the hammers, to the guys who make the multi-million dollar deals, and everyone in between. Don't miss this exclusive opportunity to get their insights on your products.

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November 28, 2013

Green Homebuyers (Still) Not Willing to Give Up Comfort, Convenience

Over the past decade, we've undertaken dozens of market research projects to uncover what consumers know or don't know, like or dislike, want or don't want in green homes. Find out what insights this long-ranging look at consumer preferences has given me, and some of the most meaningful and easy remedies to barriers that might confront builders heading down the green home path.

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Data and Trends, Homebuyer Preferences, Survey Research, Green Building, Building Products, Marketing, Building Practices

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September 19, 2013

Carpe Design: Get Ahead of the Curve in Home Design

Home design may be holding onto to tradition on the exterior, but on the inside, consumers are yearning for more and different all the time. Find out how some recent data from a builder survey may reveal where the action really is for home innovation -- after all, it's what's on the inside that counts!

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December 13, 2012

Bullish Future for Luxury Home Market?

Don’t throw in the towel on the luxury home market just yet. As single-family housing is coming back to life, some hints of a strengthening luxury home market are appearing as well. Find out what's keeping me optimistic about a bright future for building product manufacturers and suppliers.

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December 6, 2012

Multifamily is Hot. Why Green Certify?

The multifamily market is booming and the forecast is bright. So why is voluntary green certification for multifamily also booming now? See what's driving this decision in many markets.

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Green Building, Data and Trends, Energy Performance, Homebuyer Preferences, Affordable Homes, Marketing, Survey Research

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October 4, 2012

Got Third-Party Certification?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued updated Green Guides earlier this week that emphasize the value of third-party certifications in minimizing potential consumer confusion and "greenwashing." A must-read for those who market their homes as green.

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Marketing, Green Building, Energy Performance, Data and Trends, Homebuyer Preferences