When choosing your home, physicians as a group tend to be neither trend
followers nor trendsetters. Yet there are significant factors that, time and again,
help you decide where you live, whether you stay there, and what you value
most both in a house and in a neighborhood or development.
A doctor living in Windermere, for example, remodeled his home when he
and his wife were just starting their family and he wished to reside close to his
practice. After they had children they renovated the house again, but later,
when the wife was driving the kids to and from school each day, their builder
found them a lot in Orlando. There they built a new and very customized home
which was much closer to the school and the center of their family life.
Stories like this one show that, year after year, location remains a driving
force when doctors decide to buy, build or renovate a house – whether their
chosen location is conveniently near their work in an office or hospital, or near
the school their children attend, or both.
Another consistent factor shown among doctors is the desire to live in
older, established neighborhoods, regardless of other trends in home buying and
building. If his or her children have grown up and moved out, or a physician
has changed office locations, he or she will tend to buy a home in an established
area and renovate it. There also are a number of newly constructed homes
resulting from tear-downs of older dwellings on prime, established lots.
Moreover, current statistics show that in Central Florida, renovation projects
still are in demand even as construction of new luxury homes is increasing. For
example, the Seminole County Building Department issued 51 permits for home
remodeling projects and 57 permits for new construction of residences between
January 1 and February 29 of this year. The City of Orlando’s permit office,
meanwhile, issued approximately 132 permits for home renovations but only
64 permits for new construction of residences during the month of February.
Trends in medical office space are similar. Most doctors are buying existing
spaces, renovating them and making them smaller to fit their needs. They are
not, in general, expanding the square footage when they plan their move-ins.
Lake Mary, downtown Orlando, southwest Orlando and Lake Nona continue to
be the most popular locations for buying medical offices.
The most dramatic and probably culturally significant trend concerns what
doctors now value and want most in a home. Gone are the days when many
professionals felt bigger was better and spaciousness dominated 7,000 to
10,000-square-foot McMansions. Today doctors still want open floor plans
but they seek smaller lots, and the majority of new custom homes are averaging
between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet in size.
Physician homeowners also want to make the best use of this space, and
are requesting very refined architectural details and luxury finishes, as well as
energy-efficient, low-maintenance homes with high quality windows and
insulation, plaster rather than drywall, luxurious multi-use outdoor areas, and
home office spaces with the latest technology.
There is an emphasis on the selection of trim, crown moldings, cabinetry,
wood or stone flooring, and environmentally green materials. Many are mixing
materials, such as brick window sills on a stucco exterior with a slate driveway
to provide luxury touches to the outside of a house. Other examples are kitchen
renovations that take the room up a notch or two by incorporating high end
finishes rather than doubling the space, and patios that have stone fireplaces or
firepits, along with TVs and outdoor kitchens, to lend a coziness and a “family
room” feel to the outside.
There is a focus on value, tastefulness, efficiency and quality that, at the same
time, is concerned with a home’s scale, often with scaling downward. People,
including doctors, say they don’t want to have rooms they don’t use, and most
are not building large mansions even if they can afford to.
Many doctors are not first-time homebuyers. Most are established and they
have their own personal tastes and needs. Doctors also are very busy people
who want to enjoy their personal lives and downtime as much as possible.
Therefore, whether you are upgrading, or buying or building for the first or fifth
time, location, established values, and luxury touches are still what make a
house your personal home.
Victor Farina is president of Farina & Sons Inc. in Orlando, and he is president of the invitation-only Master Custom Builder Council, which honored him as its 2011 “Builder
of the Year.” He has won numerous Aurora Awards from the Southeast Building Conference and Remodelers Showcase Awards in Parade of Homes competitions.
In addition, Farina & Sons was named one of the nation’s Big 50 remodeling firms by Remodeling Magazine.