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3D Printed Houses: A Solution to Inventory Shortage?

The short supply of affordable homes is a growing concern for both builders and consumers, as real estate prices soar, demand continues to outpace supply, materials become more expensive, and skilled laborers harder to find. But, as with many pandemic-generated problems, innovators have turned to technology for solutions. With homebuilding, 3D printing could be one answer to replenishing the housing supply. Still in its early stages, several companies have cropped up of late, according to a Realtor.com article, and proponents say 3D printed homes reduce labor and waste and take far less time to build. Being in relatively early stage, the technology is still a pricey niche product, but more prospective homebuyers are learning about the option and giving it serious consideration, according to a summer survey conducted by Realtor.com and HarrisX.

The survey of 3,026 consumers found 66% of all consumers and 75% of millennials would consider living in a 3D printed home. In fact, 30% of all respondents and 43% of millennials think that 3D printed homes will replace traditional methods of homebuilding.

Only 42% of the respondents said they had previously heard about 3D home printing technology, but that number was much higher (63%) for recent homebuyers, suggesting that home searchers are digging into options when it comes to new technology.

"Over the past decade, as the homebuilding industry focused mainly on the upper-end of housing, expecting younger generations to favor renting, the price of construction has pushed new homes out of reach for many first time home buyers," said George Ratiu, senior economist, Realtor.com®. "With the largest generation in U.S. history embracing homeownership, and the pandemic accelerating the move toward suburban markets, new home construction plays a pivotal role in meeting the growing demand. As technology is advancing novel building solutions, anything we can do to reduce the cost of new construction and increase the number of available homes, especially at an affordable price point, will help to restore balance in this strong seller's market."

Some consumers remain wary of the technology—the most common hesitation was that they want to wait and see how the technology will pan out over time, said 36%.

"While the technology is still somewhat nascent, our survey data shows that consumers are very interested in 3D printed homes. While there have only been a small number of 3D printed homes sold to date, as the technology continues to advance, we could see it add more affordable homes to the housing market. For the rising generations of digital natives, new building technology may provide a sustainable bridge toward homeownership," said Ratiu.

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others. Contact Christina at christina.hughesbabb@thefivestar.com.
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