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Telecommuters will require new housing needs.

Demographics and macro economics give us pause to project a very fractured picture of what the nation's housing market will be at the beginning of the 21st Century.

In a word we can expect that there will be no single dominant trend. There are, however, several patterns which will emerge.

One of the most romanticized of the "trendy" trends is telecommuting. My prediction? By the end of the first decade of the new millennium, telecommuting will become an acceptable alternative to living in the city or the suburbs.

Telecommunications (i. e., the facsimile machine, computers, modems, telephones and even video phones) will make the office as we now know it obsolete. One will be able to live almost anywhere as offices will be without traditional walls and boundaries.

Most telecommuters will still find themselves going to the office an average of two to four days a week. We therefore will see an acceleration of people moving from the city and metropolitan suburbs, to subdivisions which coexist with truck farms in semirural areas 100 to 150 miles from the heart of the central business district.

Telecommuters will be looking to take advantage of cheaper land prices in new subdivisions far from the city or close-in suburbs. As a result, they will be bale to "stretch" for large, rambling homes 3,500 to 4,000 square feet of space, with an average of two to five acres of land.

For many, it will be a long commute, but not an everyday commute. In fact, for years, there has been a small band of Manhattan commuters trekking from Pennsylvania, Poughkeepsie, and the Hamptons on a daily basis. Telecommuting will stretch the outer reaches of most metropolitan areas, but for most, the need to maintain physical contact with office and clients will limit the extent of the geographic exodus.

One group that will certainly benefit from telecommuting is the single parent -- a growing housing market that perhaps more than any other typifies the new breed of non-traditional family situations with which builders must contend.

Last year, according to the Census Bureau, a quarter of the nation's children under 18 lived in single-parent households --most of them with their mothers. In 1970, only 12 percent of America's children under 18 lived in single-parent households.

For single mothers especially, the practical problem of finding suitable housing for themselves and their children rank in importance next to child rearing and tight finances. Being able to spend time at home while still "on the job" would constitute a tremendous advantage; builders will no doubt respond by adding offices with sophisticated communications equipment 'much of it built-in for effective space utilization -- to their floor-plan designs.
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Title Annotation:Review & Forecast, Section III; prediction for needs of home-office workers in 21st century
Author:Katz, Ric
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jan 27, 1993
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