By Paul Johnson and Kris Maher
If the last two years have taught those of us in the homebuilding industry anything, it is that we are doing more than selling houses. We are creating environments where a homebuyer will spend their time living, working, exercising, entertaining, and enjoying life.
Considering how a home will shelter someone is important – is the structure sound, are the materials high quality? However, wellness has risen to the forefront of everyone’s mind as we’ve navigated these difficult times, including Rancho Mission Viejo (The Ranch). From open space and access to nature to unique resident programming, we are seeing that how a home or community will enhance someone’s lifestyle and make them feel is equally if not more critical to consider when designing and building today.
A home is where people set down roots, build memories and friendships, where families gather and bond, and serves as a base camp, nest, and refuge. The past few years have proven how a home is much more than just bricks and mortar.
There are important factors to consider when someone is choosing the right home, including the community where the home is located and elements that enhance wellness such as camaraderie of neighbors, state-of-the art amenities, the natural land the home is built on, and of course, the location. All these features come together to create a life and a “lifestyle” that is truly appealing.
A buyer considers all these factors when setting out to buy, whether it is their first home or their next, whether a downsizing nester or a growing millennial family. We see our buyers planning their purchase based on their long-term goals, where their life’s arc may take them in future years, what is most important, and then making sure the home fulfills those needs.
The right home in the right community can make all the difference. And as a master planner, we always have buyers top of mind.
What do you want?
Lists of must-haves for new homeowners can be dizzying as trends come and go. It differs by age and stage of life, family size and diversity of interests and needs.
Do you prefer a formal dining room versus an eat-in kitchen? The same question goes for living rooms and great rooms. In beautiful California where the sun shines an average of 284 days per year, open concept floor plans that encourage indoor-outdoor living are certainly one of those ‘must-haves’.
As more people continue to move toward full-time or hybrid remote work and some level of home-schooling becomes more prevalent, home offices are essential. With millennials and their families entering the housing market for the first time, this trend is expected to rise, and, in some cases, families will need multiple home offices.
That’s why we and other homebuilders across the nation are incorporating flexible space options into floor plans. This allows buyers to customize their home and decide whether to use space for an office, a workout room, studio, or extra bedroom. It’s all about how buyers want to feather their nests.
As technology becomes more integral in our lives, “smart home” features have also become more desirable. People today want ease, security, and comfort when it comes to their home. With the click of a button, owners can control appliances, thermostats, lights, and other devices remotely using a smartphone. Planned communities are also advancing the functionality of remote work. For example, The Ranch is creating community wide Wi-Fi to facilitate connectivity across all public and amenity spaces so residents can work anywhere at any time.
Developers across the country are building diverse communities that can accommodate buyers in different circumstances with distinct needs. On The Ranch, for example, the new Village of Rienda will contain seven neighborhoods with varying home types from builders at different price points. A modern mix of space and place, buyers will be able to choose from single-family homes, duplexes, row townhomes and stacked flats that range from 727 to more than 2,100 square feet with flexible spaces and lofts.
Not every person or family has the same wants and needs, which is why it’s important every buyer finds a home to fit their lifestyle.
How do you want to live?
We can’t deny the importance that setting, design and amenities have on overall quality of life. As well-being comes to the forefront, there are things that go beyond bricks and mortar that help to transform a simple collection of homes into a community.
The World Health Organization (WHO), defines health as more than just the absence of disease but, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.”
When home buyers are considering a new home, they’re also looking for a sense of community that will enrich their physical and mental well-being along with their emotional, social, and environmental well-being. They’ll consider how the happening of their daily life can lead them on a path towards a healthier, happier, and longer life.
Appealing and enticing outdoor and public spaces like parks, playgrounds, pools, and hiking trails inspire people to explore the great outdoors and find refuge in the fresh air.
For example, The Ranch’s new amenity, Ranch Camp will provide unique and inspired experiences for residents, from a 20,000 square-foot-lagoon-style pool to interactive educational events and classes at The Nature House.
Some communities, like The Ranch, also have the benefit of being on the edge of protected outdoor space, where people can enjoy special intimacy with the soul that only nature provides. Residents enjoy up to approximately 21,000 acres of nature right in their own backyards with The Nature Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo. Natural terrain and wildlife are often the perfect antidote to our digitally dependent, attention-squeezed lives.
According to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), with whom The Ranch has a first-of-its kind partnership, nearly 35% of American workers find it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance and strong social connections. A sometimes overlooked but important aspect of well-being is social connectedness, which has become doubly important in the wake of the pandemic.
Developers are well advised to offer community events, festive traditions, programs, clubs, and a myriad of other experiences. All these help residents connect over shared interests, discover common ground, build lasting friendships, and allow them to flourish. For example, The Ranch’s community farms provide an opportunity for residents of all ages and stages of life to reconnect with the natural world to access freshly harvested produce while creating connection with each other and the environment. Resident-led clubs also contribute to a community’s unique social environment, which promotes unity and personal growth and development.
A high-quality life combines a harmony of mind, body, and soil, as we so often say on The Ranch.
For a homebuyer, there’s nothing more important than choosing the home that’s right for you. Building vibrant communities and comfortable homes go a long way in enabling buyers to achieve and live the lives they’ve always dreamed about.
Paul Johnson is Executive Vice President of Community Development for Rancho Mission Viejo. Kris Maher is Senior Vice President of Design for Rancho Mission Viejo.