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The Decline of Cookie Cutter Homes 

click to enlarge Little boxes, on the hillside, little boxes...
  • Little boxes, on the hillside, little boxes...


W

hen helping people find a home, I often hear "I don't want a cookie cutter home." A cookie cutter home typically refers to a tract-type homes that look pretty much the same from the exterior.

Many of these homes were built after World War II when there was high demand and a low supply of housing for the middle class. Because so many men were at war, housing production declined during the war, but as they returned, there was large demand for middle class housing. The mass production and uniformity was a way to help keep the houses affordable because materials could be purchased in bulk and homes could be built more quickly.

In Bend, most of the newer developments fit this definition, and the dislike many buyers have toward them is likely why many buyers are attracted to the west old Bend area and increasingly for the neighborhoods to the east of Third Street bordered by Revere and Franklin to the north and south. The newer high density developments typically have CC&R's, Homeowner Associations and dues, and rules that restrict individuality and customization of homes such as restrictions on paint colors and other alterations the older neighborhoods do not have all these rules, lots are larger sized, and homes are mainly individually rather than mass constructed, and have more character.

In addition to millennial buyers, other groups are also attracted to this concept but access is limited due to costs. This is very evident to anyone comparing prices on old west Bend homes to newer tract-type housing.

Many mass builders are attempting to lower this uniformity in response to consumer demand and seek affordable ways to vary streetscapes, architecture and housing elevation. While mass building has definite economic advantages and attractive development is possible, the mass builders look to where they can make the most money. Currently, affordable entry-level housing does not seem to be part of the picture, which is probably why we are still seeing larger homes and a shortage of affordable entry level and middle class housing.



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