What a life!” says Steven Bursten. He’s referring to the affluence in America and one of its most visible manifestations: the ever-rising number of $1 million and $500,000-plus homes (see this month’s cover story).
In May, the U.S. Census Bureau released its analysis of American
Community Survey (ACS) data. It found the percentage of million-dollar
homes doubled from 0.5 to 1.0 percent in just five years. The data
also show the national median home value in 2003 was about $140,000,
up nearly 16 percent from 2000. “The real estate market is
a great example of how rapidly our communities can change from year
to year,” said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon.
There are a few other interesting tidbits found in the survey. Among
them are these: California led the nation with the highest median
home value ($316,600); six Northeastern states were among those
with the highest percent increase in housing values; and outside
the Northeast, Florida, one of the fastest growing states in the
nation, was one of the states with the largest percent increases
in housing values.
What interests Bursten, however, is how much time and effort so
many in the window coverings industry spend going after homeowners
in the median range and how largely under-served is this growing
upper end segment. He sees homes valued between $300,000 and $800,000
as the great opportunity of tomorrow, although that doesn’t
mean this segment is an easy sell. Homeowners in this range understand
value, want to beautify their homes and make them unique, but they
also demand ideas, choice and service. Innovative alternative window
treatments have been filling this need for the last several years—and
will continue doing so—but more and more, these homeowners
will be turning to draperies to complete the look. “Beautifully
designed window treatments will create more beauty for the money
than anything they can do” and dealers who “position themselves
for that market and go after that market are going to be the real
moneymakers, ” Bursten says.