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What Real Estate Agents Should Know About Architecture

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The American dream has been homeownership for a long time, but boy have the facades and layouts changed over the years. American housing styles have changed, and continue to change, as homeowners’ tastes and lifestyles have evolved. As the country has undergone industrial and economic changes, housing styles have adapted out of necessity.

Thankfully, Inman contributor Gerard Splendore is here to walk us through the World Wars, depressions, recessions, pandemics and the boom times as well.

A basic understanding of each architectural style that defines a decade will position you as a knowledgeable agent with your clients and make searching for a home with your buyers easier for everyone. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of what each decade meant for architecture and how homes kept up with the times.

With roots in the British royal family, Victorian architecture found expression in a wide variety of architectural styles. Today, you will recognize Victorian houses by their grand scale, ornate exteriors and interiors featuring fine craftsmanship.

Four square and kit homes in any number of variations are commonplace across the country. Today, these houses may have been updated, modernized or expanded.

Housing styles took a sharp turn away from traditional styles with the introduction of Art Deco design, and a new age in home architecture came on the scene. Here’s what you should know about homes from this period.

The stock market crash and Great Depression impacted everything that happened in the United States between 1929 and 1930. This was a period of great uncertainty, reflected in houses called bungalows. They were smaller and occupied one floor only.

World War II lasted from 1939 to 1945, and the returning soldiers, post-war, were motivated by victory and the G.I. Bill, with guaranteed home loans to become homeowners. The term “The American dream” was born and consisted of a house “with a white picket fence,” 2.5 children, a car and a dog. The 1940s saw a blend of influences and trends, driven in large part by the needs of a post-World War II nation.

Housing in the 1950s is characterized by homogeneous style and post-World War II sensibilities, affluence and family size. This period of architecture and home furnishings has become even more highly desired since it became known as “mid-century modern” in Cara Greenberg’s 1984 book Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s.  The television series Mad Men popularized this period of architecture and design. Highly desired by millennials, any agent well-versed in this style will be successful. 

Housing from the 1960s is characterized by innovations that made residential living more convenient than ever before. Popularly known as “the swinging Sixties,” a time of youth culture, political and cultural upheaval, housing styles remained fixed in the 1950s, with some exceptions. Kitchens became larger with attached dining areas or breakfast nooks, in addition to formal dining rooms.

Housing stock from the 1970s blends holdover aesthetics from the 1960s with a new emphasis on organic and global elements. Gerard Splendore offers a guided tour through homes from “the decade that taste forgot.”

You might have noticed we’re not quite through today. Stay tuned. We’ll keep adding to this week after week until we’re through today’s trends.

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