Teri and Nancy take us through the big picture of their America at Home study; a national survey asking Americans insightful questions about homeownership and home design priorities as affected by experiences of COVID and quarantine. We discuss the insights they gleaned and what the results of the study mean for the future of home design in America.

Full Podcast Transcript

Grace Mase  00:09

Hello, and welcome to the Revivify Podcast. I'm your host, Grace Mase. Today I'm here with Teri Slavic-Tsuyuki, a marketing expert and founder of tst ink, and Nancy Keenan, the President, and CEO of Dahlin Group, an architecture firm in California. They have spearheaded the America at Home Study, which turns all speculation about how COVID is changing American home life into quantifiable and actionable insights that can inform the way we build and live. I'm extremely excited to talk with them about their study here on Revivify. Welcome, Terri and Nancy.

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  00:59

Thank you, Grace.

Nancy Keenan  01:00

Yes. Thanks for having us here today, Grace.

Grace Mase  01:02

So tell us the history of how this study came about?

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  01:06

Sure. And then that's a great question; it's one that we love to talk about. And it's literally, I was sitting in my home office on March 31st, and 90% of Americans were living in some kind of stay at home order at that point in time. And everything I was hearing and reading about in the media and with journalists, business press, economists, prognosticators, trend-watchers, everyone was talking about the impact that COVID would have on things like travel and hospitality, small businesses, restaurants, your local favorite places to go and eat, but no one was talking about the impact COVID would have on home and community. Yet, most of us were living life from home. So I really kind of saw the opportunity to reach out to the American people and ask their opinion. And so I collaborated with a long term partner of mine, Belinda Sward, who's a consumer insights strategist, and reached out to Nancy, as the president and CEO of Dahlin Architecture and Planning, because I really think that Dahlin is one of the sort of most innovative groups in their space. And the three of us collaborated and develop the study. And then we funded it, we self-funded it, with no outside influence or any other resources. So we really took it upon ourselves to do some primary research that we just developed and funded ourselves.

Grace Mase  02:22

That's fantastic. So going through this experience, Nancy, how did you find from the architecture perspective, this study is impacting our industry?

Nancy Keenan  02:32

You know, as designers, we can always come up with so many solutions to any challenge or problem, but what you really want to know is what the consumer or the end-user is really thinking. What a way to get direct information from a consumer. Because sometimes even home builders, contractors, others in the process, may bring to it their own perspective, their own point of view, but you want to know what's going to sell. What's going to help the people who are going to live in that house? How does it really impact them? So for us, it was fascinating to get in on the front end of a study like this, and actually be able to say, what about this question, this would help us that sort of thing.

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  03:09

Yeah, and Nancy was involved from day one. So Nancy, and Belinda, and I, the three of us, collaborated on the design and development of the actual questions that went out to the field. And then when the first wave of research came back, we collaborated again, with the addition of Kantar Consulting, which’s one of the largest consumer insights companies in the world. And in fact, they reached out to us, as a result of the quality of the research in the first wave. And Cantar partnered with us on the second wave and appended what's called their MindBase® segmentation. So we have an even deeper look, to Nancy's point, at the specific consumers that will live in these homes and how they're telling us they want to live.

Grace Mase  03:47

So were there any surprising things that you discovered?

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  03:50

Yeah, I think Nancy can speak to this in spades, too, on the product side. I think for us, all of us, it was really the surprise about how important the feeling of safety really is right now. And the impact that that has across how people are living in their homes today, into the changes they've already made in their homes as a result of living with the pandemic. And also, in the terms of the features, benefits and amenities they said they wanted in their next home and are willing to pay for, and even, their feeling about community amenities. So we really think that this is a pretty much sort of a C change and that the phrase that we've heard coined, and you've probably heard as well, is really that health is the new wealth. So I think that was just so far-reaching, and Nancy, I don't know if you wanted to add anything to that as well.

Nancy Keenan  04:35

Yeah, I think really the second wave of the study solidified what we found in the first wave. I think that was most surprising because you're trying to say, "Is any of this kind of going to really stick?" and "How much do people care?" But it really solidified that the way we live, what we do in our homes, and how much time, you've taken the time to sit down and look around and see what you've got, and realize this is what's important to me, what matters most here. The study really took that to the level of verifying that, you know, this really is important to people, these are changes they're willing to make and stick to for some time.

Grace Mase  05:10

So tell us that your biggest takeaway, between going through the segmentation process and details that you collected?

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  05:18

Sure, I'll give you kind of the macro-takeaway first, maybe Grace, and then a detailed one by segment. So I think for us, the macro-takeaway, which was a bit of a surprise, at least for me, personally, is that COVID has driven up demand for new home purchase. So we asked these questions in two different ways. We ask them of homeowners, so current people who already own a home, and we also ask them of renters. And in the case of renters, in the first study, 46% of renters today in April, said COVID made them now want to buy a home and be an owner. They wanted more control, more access to things that they would like to change or modify in their home, more and more decisions they could be in control of. By October, that number increased to 50%. So we can confidently say today that one in two renters wishes they were able to be a homeowner. And when you look at that against the US Census data, that translates into 7.6 million potential new homeowners, that's the renter side. On the homeowner side, homeowners who said, you know, during the pandemic, the reaction of living with COVID has now made them more inclined to want to move, that equates to another 3.5 million homeowners. So the macro surprise between the data for me was that the pandemic, despite the economic downturn, and that cannot be taken at all lightly or swept aside, has been devastating on many, many families and people in all parts of the country, but it really has driven up new home demand. And then I think in terms of your question around the segments, and what did we learn about the segments who may be, you know, more or less inclined to want to make changes. Unequivocally, we really learned in both April and October, that the older millennials and the younger Gen X groups were the ones that were the least satisfied with their current living conditions. So those are the families that likely have kids still at home, school-aged kids, maybe high school kids. And in the Gen X case, maybe even kids that have returned from college. And now you've got, as you said, at the beginning of our interview, everything happening at home. And those two segments were the segments that were really the least satisfied with their current living situations.

Nancy Keenan  07:24

I think it also, to add on to what Teri's saying, it also reinforced the sense of community that people want from their home. So it wasn't just entirely about what's inside the home. It was also about, "Did they have access to outdoor amenities?", "Did they have the ability to get outside and connect with the community?" So those kinds of takeaways that often as designers, we may assume that's what, but it's very important to people, they were going to look closely about where's my home located? What am I able to trade-off to be able to have outdoor access and outdoor amenities?

Grace Mase  07:56

That's an interesting point. And first of all, thank you. That's a really good insight. What we also are seeing is people moving away from city centers to more suburbs. Is that what you're seeing as well?

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  08:08

Yeah, I think we would say, we would be cautious about that one interpretation. And I've said this a couple of different ways when we asked location a number of ways. And to Nancy's point about trade-offs. When we asked renters. “What would you be willing to give up in order to be able to buy a home, to become that homeowner that you want to become?” The first thing was they were all willing to, or most willing to give up private yard space if they had private access to smaller outdoor spaces. So in other words, if I can't have a yard if my home has a patio, balcony, or a deck, I'm good with that. The second thing was location. But location, in that case, was phrased as a cheaper or different, like a less expensive or a different location. We then also asked all of them, urban, suburban, and rural. And I will say the answer is differed by household income as much as they do by demographic cohort. So in other words, there were a lot of respondents to our study in both waves who are in the higher tier of household income that actually said they would be willing and wanted to accept an urban location. So the flight from kind of urbanity, if you will, we really don't think is a one size fits all phenomenon. We think it's dependent upon the life stage, the lifestyle, the household net-worth, or income of the individual. And I think we need to be a little careful to say that we're all rushing to rural and suburban environments.

Nancy Keenan  09:30

Absolutely. You can get that same connectivity in an urban environment and having access to walkability and community.

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  09:38

Yeah, and what it means and what our study found, and a lot of these actually were questions that Nancy and her team came up with—which I'm grateful that they did—what we've learned is that even in the urban environment, there are product changes that need to happen as a result of living in a pandemic. But those changes are achievable and possible, again, with just thinking from the consumers’ perspective and good design.

Grace Mase  09:58

That makes complete sense. Thank you for that perspective. Now with that in mind, as builders and remodelers, how would they take this study and help them to understand what's the best way to engage with their clients knowing that this is a trend?

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  10:11

Yeah. So I think what we would always say is it looks hard on the surface. When everyone, whenever you hear the term, “let's do some consumer research”, people start to shake, or they see giant PowerPoints in their future, and nothing really tangible. And I think what we hopefully have shown is that if you're just a little curious, and you take a minute or two and frame up some great questions, and then take time to listen and observe your consumers' behavior, you can really learn a lot. So what I would say to Home Builders or remodelers is listen and observe your customers’ behaviors today. So there's no substitute for that. It doesn't have to be onerous and expensive and take a long time, but just listen and observe and keep listening and keep asking. So I think if you can find the pains that your customers are trying to alleviate, by ways of asking things about things that aren't working in their home, or their community today, and then find the gains that they're trying to amplify. So things like, I need more space to have zoom calls or to be able to work from home while my kids are at home. Those sound like basic, simple things, but if you just stay really curious and ask how might we, and figure out what that's so what factor is in those insights, you can create better designs that respond to that.

Nancy Keenan  11:21

Absolutely, we can sometimes fall into the trap of being experts in this field, maybe thinking that we know all the answers in advance. And Someone once told me as a leader, every so often, you need to pause and turn around and make sure someone's following or listening. And so this would be a good point for folks to do that. And to really focus on what is the highest use, the biggest touchpoints, and the memory points, what are people, what's really asking those questions of people? What is the thing you most care about in your home that you would like to see happen differently?

Grace Mase  11:52

Now you've gone through the first wave and second wave, you're bout to release your second wave data? Are you expecting a third wave of this?

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  12:00

Yeah, we think so when we first sort of embarked on this journey, I mean, we had no idea what we would find. Honestly, that week in time, my largest client had just called me and put all of their work on hold with me. So I remember going to my stove in the kitchen, I was stirring soup for lunch. And I literally said to myself, well, I wonder what I'll be doing to make a living in six months. Like, I mean, really, we didn't know where this would lead or what it would become. But I think now we've seen the insights and seeing the nuances of the changes, we're talking about a third wave probably the middle of next year at some point in time. And what we'll probably do for that, Grace, is add some additional questions around health and wellness, add some additional questions around specific features and areas in the home and community that relate to the design inspiration that we've been working through with Nancy's team at Dahlin, as we've worked on the concept home. So we do think it'll be a baseline sort of study that will repeat and be able to project what's happening with these behaviors over time. And by the middle of next year, you know, we'll be hopefully into some form of vaccine treatment and what we had the April study when things were just starting, and then we had the October study when things were still really in a bad shape. And people were getting very tired and tedious with the whole quarantine stuff. In 2021, it'll be a bit of a different space. So I think we'll learn some new things.

Grace Mase  13:19

So from a business perspective, this is a huge insight, an enormous amount of data you provide and help us to understand how to engage with our homeowners. For homeowners and home buyers, there's a lot of good data for them to understand how to plan for their next move. What would you say the key takeaway for them?

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  13:35

Yeah, I think for the homeowners, the things that we've learned are the changes that were already made in their homes. So things like disinfecting things more, using space for combined purposes. Things that were, as Nancy said earlier, things that were bugging you about your home before are really bugging you now. So just like you would start with a new build or new construction, if you're a homeowner or something's making you crazy. Do your pros and cons, right? Sit down and say well, what can we change that will really have the greatest impact on our ability to live in the home. And we've seen a lot of people do things like changing their yards, change their kind of outdoor seating space, so they have more opportunity to kind of get out. And then for the homebuyer, like the pandemic has done is really escalated the adoption of online shopping and purchase changes. So even for something as big as a house, so a lot of home builders and developers were dipping their toes into the water of virtual sales and 360-degree tours and all those kinds of things. But we saw builders and developers really embrace that in and advance their sort of technology suite, if you will, five years in a matter of about eight or nine months. So I think what we've learned from homebuyers and what they can take away from this is that the virtual shopping experience isn't scary. While we're all missing the human connection, there have been a lot of ways that that's been, I think, really precious and special in this hybrid approach.

Nancy Keenan  14:52

And they can start asking questions of their home builders as well. They can start to ask things about you're imagining you're at home or you want your materials to be more durable, easier to clean. Those are the simple kinds of things that they can start to ask questions about.

Grace Mase  15:07

Yeah, those are really good points, because what we're seeing it on our end, the BEYREP side, we definitely see a surge of interest in using technology, not only just from the homeowner perspective, but also from the pro perspective. Just think about nine months ago, if he asked most of the contractors, what zoom is they're like, "Ahh... I have no clue." Now, pretty much everyone's comfortable with the concept of zoom, and the homeowner. So what we see on many of our projects, pretty sizable projects, when there's a number of crew members on-site, the homeowners are much more reluctant going on-site to check out things. They prefer video clips of the progress or photos uploaded directly to our BEYREP app, just to keep them in communications and be informed on the progress. So we definitely see a shift just the usage of technology, how to continue to connect that human touch that you mentioned earlier.

Nancy Keenan  16:01

I saw that even with my daughter in construction, some construction on her home where the contractor became very comfortable with holding up an iPad, and face timing what's happening with the details. And I was thinking that very thing, gosh, just six months or a year ago, nobody would have thought about that's the way you can have the conversation about that detail.

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  16:20

That's great. And I think that the blur and the blend of technology, and the human touch is really so important. And I think we've all tried to do that for so many years before this event. And now what used to be impossible or feel really hard isn't anymore. If I know what's important to Nancy, and I'm a new home sales consultant or I'm a remodeling general contractor, I now know I can use very simple tools and take the time to show her what's important to her, to show her the different options she can have, and to get that sense of comfort. And then, have a conversation and follow up and discuss in more detail rather than you know, have this sort of formal walkthrough and you feel kind of overwhelmed and maybe the contractor or the builders speaking in the language you don't know as the consumer, you aren't comfortable with knowing. Now there's time, right, you can take time and talk to people from an individual perspective. And I think that's just a huge win.

Grace Mase  17:10

Absolutely. And especially when they're both parts of your comfort of their home office or the living room to be able to have a conversation, be more relaxed, and be able to have that discussion versus getting distracted. Let the subcontractor walk out with raw sets of tiles, technology definitely plays a good role in how things are working out. In some ways, this actually may help to lift our entire industry to be more productive, more engaging, and providing more transparency all around.

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  17:38

Right, exactly Grace. It's a large scale, very complicated manufacturing industry, right, I can't even begin to guess the number of individual bits and skews that go into making a home or renovating a home. It's overwhelming, then I think sometimes we allow that to be an excuse to get stuck in our box and our way of doing things. I think hopefully what many have learned during this last nine-month period is that we can be a little more innovative and be more open and just listen and be a little more responsive to how things need to change.

Nancy Keenan  18:10

And we can understand that you really can connect with other people in this way. You can get to know each other enough to feel comfortable and talk about what do you think of this tile?

Grace Mase  18:21

Perfect, and with a current new norm. So you also identify some pieces like the features, what can you, just share with us some of the top three features that homeowners are looking to have?

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  18:32

Sure the things that people said that are missing from their home today. So when we asked them you know, as a result of life at home with COVID, what's missing that you'd be willing to pay for your next home? Technology upgrades were at the top of the list. And so fully 56% of respondents in the last study said that was really important to them, and they would pay more for it. The other thing was better-equipped kitchens for cooking. And we always want to take a break, Nancy and I make this point because it's not a show kitchen that just looks beautiful. But I mean, we have been cooking from home, right? The New York Times cooking apps, the news feeds, the chain email letters of recipes, the Instagram posts of quarantine cooking, I'm as guilty of that as everyone even as recently as last Friday night. That's our life now. So your kitchen needs to work for cooking. So that was number two. And the other one was something that's referred to a moment ago, which is the materials in the home. So germ-resistant countertops and flooring were way up there. More storage again for food and water, so we split the storage question because most of the research that's done in the new home space always says Oh, storage, storage, storage, well, what kind of storage? So we split that question up and got very specific about it. And it was more storage for food and water that really rose to the top. And one thing that I wanted to make sure that we made a point about was between the first study and the second study, the idea of having the laundry room located directly off the garage rose 11 percentage points. So we do some real insights from that. And Nancy, you want to talk to that in terms of the entry and exits and so on that we thought through for the home?

Nancy Keenan  20:06

Yeah, I think that the laundry room question was fascinating in that it was a direct correlation to my home feeling safe, feeling like I can come in and, and clean up right away was, there was a direct correlation there and in a number of different things about the home. So we actually translating that into our designs, where we're looking at if the laundry room is directly adjacent, for instance, to your family entry from the garage, and you're able to have a place to drop off all the kids’ dirty stuff, a place to wash up the dog, or what if you're a frontline health care worker, and you really want to be able to take everything off before you come into your home almost as a vestibule space. So those kinds of features other features that dive a little deeper, Teri mentioned technology, rewiring homes, and home for home technology. One of our folks this week, their whole house was being rewired to upgrade, they have four kids, two people working from home, the whole house was being rewired to upgrade technology, there was an opportunity there. Same with ventilation, clean water filtering systems, all of those things start to feed into how we just feel safer with the air and the water and the stuff we bring into our house.

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  21:22

Yeah, so I think if we had to sum it up, the top features that are most desired are things that improve your technology and your ability to do whatever you have to do from home, safety, whether it's the laundry, the surfaces that are more hygienic and easier to clean, and then I think the third would be the access to outdoor space, private outdoor space, wait for places you can go and have an afternoon call or just decompress and get away from your family, right? Well, we're all at home together, as humans, we all still need our own time to kind of unwind and decompress. And we've heard crazy stories from response to the studies about how they're doing that. I'll never forget, Nancy that one verbatim from the first study in April, we had a gentleman who was in the Gen X segment. And his story was he gets up early in the morning, goes out to his wife's car in the driveway, takes all of his morning meetings and zoom calls from his wife's car in the driveway, still connected to their home Wi-Fi, comes in late mid-morning, when his wife and his children are up, they have breakfast together as a family then they go on their own separate ways, kids are doing schooling from home, I think the wife works part-time somewhere else from home. And he talked about being able to work out in the middle of his day because he's home anyway, and then getting together with the family for dinner at the end of the day. So that's an actual verbatim real-world example of somebody going, I need to find my own space somewhere in this environment.

Nancy Keenan  22:43

Right, so as a designer, you're looking, listening to that going, Oh, gosh, can we design the guy at least in outdoor office, sit outside and have his meetings.

Grace Mase  22:54

That's a great story, actually, that we might be one of our clients, he's a doctor and had to during the peak of this pandemic, he literally had to be separated from his family. And so what we did for this project was literally built an addition for him to have a separate entry door, not from the main entry door for him to immediately come into the bathroom, for him to clean himself up, and have a separate bed just for him to rest for the night before he gets back on the shift again. And it was hard on his family clearly, but the house needs to adapt to his current lifestyle.

Nancy Keenan  23:26

We're seeing that same kind of response for folks who may have an elderly family member living at home with them, and then they have young children. And so how do you want to keep the safety in mind and having a guest suite that's with separate entry, a separate bathroom, maybe its own outdoor porch, all of those kinds of features are becoming more and more, people are focusing more on that kind of safety too.

Grace Mase  23:49

Which is exciting. The reason why we're in this industry because it's all about how home actually impacts your personal life, your mental health, and so forth. And for us to take this moment pause we think about what's the best way for us to expand and grow the family and provide the right space for them to nurture them.

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  24:07

Exactly, Grace, that's well said.

Grace Mase  24:09

I'd like to switch gears for a few minutes and get your perspective on the concept of home which you talked about in your study. As we know that this year has been challenging many things like basic stuff, the status quo, as you know how we collaborate with each other how we build how we renovate homes. And when there's a significant delay on manufacturing issues or goods and so forth. I'm interested in learning from you from that perspective concept home. So do you mind share with us what the concept home is and how's it going to be used?

Nancy Keenan  24:38

Sure, we work with Garmin homes, Alaina Money and Jim Garmin. They were so gracious to want to join in with us and really test all of the things we're talking about because we were doing bits and pieces of this with other home design but to really pull it into one home that focuses on all of it together and it's pretty powerful. When you start to think about it, how it all sort of comes together, and what it can mean to the future of home design. So the concept home is at Chapman park in Pittsboro, North Carolina, 2600 square feet, two stories, four bedrooms, three and a half baths. And it had a target family, which is an older millennial family. one parent works at home, the other works outside the home with an elementary school child, and then a younger child. So we thought about this family, though, by the way, the home is alley loaded. So you enter the garage from an alley and there's a front porch on the street. So we focused first on the parts of the home that will have the highest use and the most kind of bang for your buck value of how do you make people feel comfortable here and we've talked about a couple of these things already this morning, sort of alluding to it. You start with the entries, you think about the guest entry, and you kind of harken back to the vestibules of homes in the early 1900s, where a lot of times they were created as an airlock for the weather, but they can have other uses too. You can come into this vestibule space with your guests, greet your guests, and a bathroom just adjacent for cleaning up. You can actually have that guest space just adjacent too, with their own access to the front porch. So the concept home is built with that in mind, and then the vestibule has the option to have glass doors to the rest of the house. So say you're greeting somebody that's just dropping off packages versus someone you're inviting into your home, a very interesting way of rethinking the front door so to speak, and how guests enter. And then we've looked at the other end of it, which is the family entry. Just as important. This is where everybody comes in every day. And we've often had the key drop zone for years we've had that. But really, you've got two kids and you're coming in every day from the outside or you know, yeah, way more than keys in your hands.

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  26:50

Alaina would say you're coming in hot.

Nancy Keenan  26:52

You're coming in hot, the kids are running in the dogs going crazy. And everybody's dirty from wherever you've just been. And so we're making that we're taking that into a functional drop zone where kids can drop off all their backpacks, the powder rooms right there, you may have a shower, just in case someone is a frontline worker and you need to clean up or you got to clean up the kids before you get them into the house. That's where your secondary fridges that's where your laundry is. So and that then has adjacency not just to coming in from the garage, but also from outside. So it also serves that dual purpose of kind of a decontamination zone for the family before they come in. Other things that are happening is anybody needs more spaces too, whether it's an office, home office, home study. We've got additional flex spaces, both downstairs and upstairs that can become their home office or flex space. I think there are some other fun things that are happening that like kids’ bathrooms, for instance. There was a really funny discussion about how do we get the kids out of the parents’ bathrooms like we'll make kids bathroom cool. Give them a trough sink and a glass enclosure, and then they're going to want to stay in there. There's just a lot of flexibility in the way you live. And the way you function, I saw on one of the things I think Teri had written to make it a Swiss knife, kind of a way of functioning, a way of using storage, a way of using flexible spaces that we've designed into the features of the home that I think frankly is going to be a tipping point. I really feel like we're gonna look back on this time. And these all the unfortunate circumstances that got us here today. Pandemic is nothing anyone would wish as a way of changing the home design. But what it's really done is it's made us think about what's important to me, my family, the people who come to my home, and what do I need to do to really, really think about this. We may have been willing to accept compromises in the past that now we want to design in as a feature as something that I want to come home and feel really good about the way my home serves me.

Grace Mase  28:59

Love it. I think you mentioned a really good point, oh, we certainly don't wish pandemic happening to all of us. However, during this difficult time, we learn or stretch or grow the most. And I think as an industry, we have taken a big leap forward to how we address these needs. And many of these homeowners’ desires and rather than offering those compromises, really focus on what is it that we need to do to make this a more lasting impact for the rest of their life?

Nancy Keenan  29:28

And for Garmin to take that leap of faith with us and do it, they're pushing an envelope on a number of these things. These are things others may be dabbling, but they're taking a leap of faith and doing this. I think it's pretty powerful for them too.

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  29:41

Yeah, and we're actually working with another group called Sicilian Partners that's going to create a digital discovery experience online for the concept home. So Nancy's team at Dahlin is completed the design of the floor plans and the elevations and Garmin are now kind of taking them through final plan selects and all that. We as a team, we design, we defined, I should say, pardon me, some of the areas Nancy talked about as high priority areas that the team at Sicilian Partners is going to demonstrate digitally in a website portal where consumers will be able to go and actually look at modifications that are, that could be done in those high impact areas of the home. And then we as the American Home concept home team will have all the real-time analytics and insight to how those home shoppers are looking at the actual home before it's even finished construction. Like the family bath, Nancy mentioned, well, that's clearly an option, right? There are other things that could happen in that space. So we'll get to see, is our logic right? Did we interpret the findings, right, in terms of what people think is important to the family bath? Because we'll see their behavior on the website.

Grace Mase  30:47

I love the just from the concept perspective, rolling to actual production. And what will be also interesting is post-production actually moved in today. How is translated were things that didn't align with their original expectation, would they do differently? And what would that be, what would that next trend be?

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  31:05

You're right, Grace, that's almost even more important. And when Nancy and I were chatting with Elena Money-Garmin one day, and I was just so excited about the way that the home was taking shape. And I said this is just so great. We really nailed it. And Elena really caught me off guard and said no, though learning only just begins, we'll really learn when the home is built. And we start to see how people respond to it. And what did we miss? Did we not think about it properly or correctly based on how they respond to it?

Nancy Keenan  31:31

How will they use the flex spaces? Yeah, we may assume that they're going to be small home offices or study rooms. But what if they really needed it for some other kind of, you know, different kinds of storage, or other ways of using those spaces, just the ability to give somebody a choice and a way in something to do with it, it's fascinating to see how they'll use it.

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  31:51

Yeah, the home garage has become more than just a utility space to park a car. It's right? It's really become an extension of the home. So we learned a lot of things people had already done in terms of changes to their garage. So it'll be interesting to see how they respond to that as well.

Grace Mase  32:08

But it's really definitely an exciting time to see garage is no longer an extension or a secondary piece of the home. This is actually become the part that very utilitarian, not only your laundry, potentially converted to the home gym, or the grinding unit, that JADUs that become a popular event where the homeowners realized, instead of leaving my elderly relatives in those senior homes, I want to bring them in to live with me. And so I can help to take care of them while they may take care of the younger ones at home.

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  32:40

Yeah, and, you know, there's some other interesting data that's being talked about right now around the 55+ home buyer, that's really interesting that I thought maybe would be fun to just talk about for a minute as it relates to sort of homes, right. So there's a lot of people thinking, Well, what does the pandemic mean for retirement? Are people going to work longer? Are they going to retire sooner, and there's this cohort of, I'll call them sort of older GenX/younger boomers. So there, you know, the mid to late 50s, who, James Chung, one of the I think preeminent researchers in our industry has coined the kind of just "it's good enough." So, maybe we, you know, that person's lost their executive-level job, or they're just tired of doing the commute. Maybe business looks different. Maybe they've lost their small business. But they've managed to do things well enough over their career, that they've got enough of a nest egg, they have enough equity in their home and they're saying, you know what, good enough. I'm set up, I have enough income to retire on and I'm going to simplify, downsize my life, but maybe stay in my home and live my life in a more comfortable, simple way. So what about that is an impact on homes going forward? Right, if there are a lot of people that decide to just this is good enough, let's make this home the way it needs to work for us. I think that's a whole other thing that we've got to look forward to.

Nancy Keenan  33:57

Prioritizing comfort. What is it that makes my home more comfortable for me?

Grace Mase  34:03

I think during this period of time, we end up more inward focus, where we started asking ourselves, what is it I need from my home? And what is it I need for my space to serve me? And the other thing that I find it interesting, in some ways, exciting that we kind of mentioned the multi-generation part of it where the grandparents are watching the grandkids while the parents working. But that almost to the point is to bring us back to our roots. We are the community. We're here to take care of each other. We're here to support each other. We're here to create memories together. We're actually much more empathetic and much more connected with each other in a different level, which I find quite special.

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  34:45

Yeah, you're right, Grace, and we heard some verbatims around that too, about just people spending more time with family or spending more time cooking, making time to zoom with relatives they haven't talked to in months and just that whole doing things together at a slower pace. And finding comfort in puzzles and game nights and you know, all that kind of stuff.

Nancy Keenan  35:05

And family meals again, family meals, hopefully, we can all be, we're all going to be home now. So we can eat together!

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  35:12

Yeah, and that kitchen design, right, Nancy? I mean your team did some real-time design innovations on the fly in the planning charrette to kind of relook at the whole kitchen layout.

Nancy Keenan  35:21

We did. Folks mostly, when you're in a family, a lot of times your meal is held in the kitchen. So how do you make this kitchen work for someone who's cooking while the kids are both eating and doing homework, and it's a Swiss knife kitchen by all means?

Grace Mase  35:35

It is, and then which makes sense, which you kind of mentioned before this good enough and how to make it comfortable that becomes the home remodeling industry? What are you excited about in that part, the home remodeling industry, but also taking it to a whole different level too?

Nancy Keenan  35:51

So that's been really interesting for us in that a lot of the vendors we're talking to about this are pretty excited about what it means to them, especially vendors who provide things like flexible furniture, or built-in custom cabinetry, or how do you, the home gym space? How do you have a gym that works as a gym, and folds up is not a gym? And so I think there's a lot of different ways to look at all these spaces that are exciting for those folks as well. We've had a number of flexible furniture companies reach out to us and want us to connect them directly to the homeowners and homebuyers to the builders. So that because the builders don't always provide that either, or in an existing home that wouldn't be provided. But you can just imagine the murphy bed is having a whole renaissance right now. And then how do you turn a space that was a kid's bedroom, it's a kid's bedroom at night, during the day, it's a study space, or it might be somebody's office, if they've got to get away for a zoom call, that thing's got to really flex throughout the day. So we're seeing quite a bit of interest around that sort of thing. And then some of the add on features I talked about earlier. How do you go in and revamp your HVAC system? We've had a couple of folks asked about package HVAC that you can put in the garage, because how do I do all this in the garage if I can't have heating and cooling? There are opportunities that somewhat seem simple, perhaps, but they can make all the difference to somebody in their home being able to come in and just make some simple changes that make it work easier and better for them. We had one and I showed the pictures of this, one of our staff needed to get outside because he had two toddlers, needed to get outside for meetings during the day. So he built this whole built-in desk outside with plants and herbs growing on it and he has Wi-Fi out there and he connected it up and all the meetings we're in with him. He's sitting outside holding the meeting. It's fantastic. And every so often you'll see the kids run by. So I think there's a lot of opportunities for home remodelers and renovators and vendors as well in this especially, they are very interested in our results. If I'm in a situation talking there, I get most of my outreach is from the vendor saying, "Hey, I've got just the thing you need to talk about with this. I've got this flexible bed or this moveable table kind of thing."

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  38:16

Yeah, and it's funny. Cantar even had an outreach From the makers of Lysol. When our study results were referred to in one of Jay Walker Smith's webinars, they had a call from the makers of Lysol saying, "Okay, let's talk what does this mean for homes?" So I think there's a lot of far-reaching implications and applications for sure.

Grace Mase  38:36

This is exciting when all the different areas come together and collaborate and create that synergy. The home is gonna be remarkable. I can't wait. I'm excited about the concept of home. So let's do a quick lightning round. What's your secret recipe for success?

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  38:51

Stay curious and always ask how might we?

Nancy Keenan  38:55

Collaborate. Everybody has something to offer in every conversation.

Grace Mase  39:01

Then how would you tell any young female audience listening, consider going to the housing space? What would you recommend them to do?

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  39:09

Oh, wow, I would say show up and bring your whole self. Don't apologize. Bring your whole self certainly read the room and figure out how your voice can be best heard and best accepted. And I've been guilty of that many times. But bring your whole self I mean, bring your point of view and perspective because we need it more than ever.

Nancy Keenan  39:27

And I'd add on to that your voice matters. It always matters. Everybody in the room knows that. So coming into the room and speaking up and everybody's ideas are worth hearing and know that yours are worth hearing too.

Grace Mase  39:40

Well, thank you so very much for both of you taking the time to join us on this podcast. And for all of you if you like to learn more about America at-home study, check out americaathomestudy.com I hope you enjoy hearing from Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki and Nancy Keenan about America at Home Study. Thank you for listening, and we'll see you next time.

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki  40:04

Thank you.

Nancy Keenan  40:05

Thanks, Grace

Grace Mase  40:08

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